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5 ways to reduce industrial energy

21 Jun 2022

How to mitigate the rising energy bills

There are two ways to mitigate the rising cost of energy:

    1. Increase the price of your products you sell.
    2. Reduce the amount of energy needed to make your products without compromising on quality or safety

For manufacturers there are plenty of opportunities to reduce the amount of energy within your factory. We will explore 5 ways that will provide quick returns:

Get the whole company involved

Energy management is a team game – it starts at the top, is influenced by the administration staff and is delivered by the shop floor teams.

The roles of each group are well defined in terms of their contribution to reducing energy usage:

  1. Management.  They need to communicate the reason behind reducing energy across the factory by letting everyone know that using less energy is good for business (and for the environment, but that is another article). Management’s mantras need to be:

    “Don’t forget to turn off your equipment.”

    “Switch off the lights when leaving the room.”

    “If we reduce our energy bills, we may have enough savings to invest in new equipment to make your job easier. We cannot do this without you.”

  2. Admin staff.  The purchasing and accounting teams need to be providing key energy data such as energy unit costs, monthly spend, time of day pricing and contractual arrangements.  There are so many companies we visit where we ask the simple question of “what is the monthly energy bill?” to everyone we meet.  You will be surprised that not many are even close to the true figure except those who actually pay the bill!  Knowing the costs allows staff to have an appreciation to the size of the task to reduce these bills.
  3. Production and facilities maintenance teams.  These teams are your eyes and ears to identify waste energy across your factory.  Once identified and ‘measured’ they can help implement better ways of working or to install energy efficient technologies to eliminate the waste energy.

Bring these three groups together into an Energy Team.   Their aim is firstly to communicate the need to reduce energy.  Secondly to identify waste energy and to come up with ideas to eliminate the waste energy.  Lastly, the Energy Team should have responsibility (and remuneration!) to implement ways of working or energy efficiency technologies to eliminate waste energy.

Analyse past energy bills 

Pull out the electricity bills since January 2019 and look at the kWh figures for each bill per month.  If they are based on a half-hourly meter you will know that they are accurate, if not they may be based on an estimate which is not helpful but will still give you a steer in the right direction.    January 2019 is a great starting point as it gives you a full year pre-pandemic, 18 months of the pandemic and at least a year post pandemic.

Plot the figures against your production output figures over the same period on a monthly basis.  This will give you a trend of energy usage vs production which may show you the following:

  • Electricity usage generally follows production output.  Excellent news as your production process energy usage is effective, but this may not mean it is efficient so focus on using more energy efficient equipment such as variable speed driver and energy efficient lighting to reduce the energy used per production unit made ratios.
  • Electricity usage is mainly at a constant level.  Your production process does not use a high level of energy and your energy usage is mainly for the supporting systems - lighting, compressed air, IT networks, Heating and cooling etc.  Your focus must be on reducing the 'base-load' needed to run your facility.  Look at efficient LED lighting with controls and variable speed compressor systems.  Look at replacing compressed air driven hand tools for battery based hand tools if you can.
  • There is no relationship between Electricity usage and production output.  There are a few reasons for this with the main one being not having accurate electricity usage data or your production processes are either long lead-time (bespoke or project based) or demand is very lumpy.  Focus on the 'base-load' electrical usage like the above trend

Pre-, during-, and post- Covid electricity trends will show you if you are able to manage energy based on variable occupancy levels.  Our experience is that facility energy usage did not change through the pandemic but output fell significantly in many industries.  This is a huge opportunity to find the waste energy and eliminate it!  

About Us
Ecopare provides practical energy and carbon reduction solutions for the industrial, commercial and education sectors. We assist businesses on their journey to becoming Net-Zero.
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Ecopare Ltd
Surrey Technology Centre
40 Occam Road, Guildford
Surrey, GU2 7YG
United Kingdom.
Call us on +44 (0)1483 688170