Manufacturing businesses across Europe are striving to reduce their energy usage and costs as they continue to rise, affecting bottom lines and ROI. The planet is also negatively affected by industrial energy use, responsible for about 21% of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide.
In the UK, 79% of manufacturers describe energy efficiency as a “business-critical” issue, and 9/10 businesses discuss energy management at the board level, according to the Financial Times. Yet, the same survey revealed only half of the manufacturers actually have a 5-year energy management plan in place – most are only thinking ahead one year in advance.
With Brexit becoming more real every day, future challenges in industrial energy consumption will only intensify in the UK and beyond. Bringing up the topic of energy management in the corporate board room is an important first step, but even more critical is taking a holistic approach by following up and translating those conversations into concrete actions.
If you are working in an industrial plant, here are four measures you can take today to reduce the burden of high energy costs in manufacturing, regardless of sector.
Lower Energy Costs in Manufacturing You Can Apply Today
1. Empower your Energy Team with SMART goals
Speed and efficiency are two key aspects of industrial manufacturing and modern production processes. Yet both are more difficult to achieve than ever due to unpredictable system failures, uncontrolled overhead costs and energy waste. To reach their production goals quickly and efficiently, manufacturers must align operational performance with a comprehensive energy strategy – and task the right people to carry it out.
This can be done by assembling an energy team responsible for setting and meeting SMART energy management goals. One industrial metallurgy plant in Spain managed to save 110,000 EUR by creating a dedicated energy team to set, implement and continually review their SMART energy goals.
2. Start Monitoring Energy Consumption
Each piece of manufacturing equipment in your plant is full of valuable data that can reveal low or no-cost measures to eliminate energy waste that causes your bills to be unnecessarily high. Installing real-time energy monitoring equipment puts your energy team in full control of your energy consumption, with the side benefit of providing alerts that can help prevent breakdowns in your facility’s equipment. Monitoring can also generate off-hour consumption savings as in the TACSA industrial metallurgy case.
3. Switch to LED Lighting
First, you were told to switch from fluorescent to CFL, and now it’s all about LEDs. But that’s because there are significant energy savings to be found – on the order of 90%! Pretty hard to argue within a cost-benefit analysis you’ll need to submit to the CFO. Plus, a switch to LEDs comes with added benefits for your facility’s working environment by providing a higher quality of lighting which increases safety and productivity.
4. Power Factor Correction
Power Factor (PF) refers to the ratio of real power to the apparent power flowing to an electrical load (e.g. a packaging machine in your production plant) from the power source. It is important for manufacturing businesses to understand how a poorly adjusted power factor can raise your facility’s energy bill.
When a motor is working inefficiently, the kVA (reactive power) increases which results in increased power consumption that might not show up on your utility bill, which typically measures KW (resistive power). Some utilities penalise customers whose power factor is too low, causing your energy bill to be unnecessarily high.
That’s why it’s essential to verify your kVA maximum demand with your utility, especially if you have installed more efficient equipment or upgraded certain machines in the last few years. Even though a lower demand is being placed on your system, your kVA might be higher than actually required. You can save as much as 50% simply by asking for a power factor adjustment – at no additional cost to your operations.
As the utility market becomes increasingly deregulated, industrial manufacturers in the UK and Europe will be able to negotiate with multiple providers to help them get the best deal to energy costs in their production processes. But without the right information about the energy consumption profile of their facilities and processes, it can be difficult to shop around.
Learn how an industrial manufacturing facility in Spain solved this information gap and managed to save more than 100,00 EUR in the process: