Energy Saving in Manufacturing

Paul Downing

When it comes to energy saving in manufacturing plant, there are many ways that you can approach the project in hand.

There are numerous management systems and principles that can be applied, Kaizan, TPM, six sigma, lean manufacturing, you name it and there is a book or course available for it. Ok they are not all solely focused on energy minimisation but they all have at their core the principle of waste reduction or quality improvement in the manufacturing process

In my experience the most practical thing that you can do as an environmental manager or energy manager in a small  to medium sized manufacturing plant is …………………………. install energy sub-meters !

I am still surprised at how many small businesses do not isolate the measurement of manufacturing lines or cells when it comes to energy use, probably one of the most expensive resource costs (apart from raw materials) in a manufacturing facility.

For the sake of a few hundred pounds, you can isolate energy use on a single process line and test its efficiency at peak times, during planned shuts, start up and shut down by direct measurement from a sub meter placed at the head of a process line to measure energy use for that process only. The sub meter is owned by the company and sits downstream of the main utilities meter measuring the incoming electricity (or gas) supply to the site. I still see companies with one mains meter only struggling to isolate energy use for individual lines by doing complex mass balances and trying to subtract energy use for a process line from site use, quite often by using power ratings and running times for pumps and motors in order to calculate specific energy consumption.

On a recent visit to a medium sized process plant the energy manager installed power meters on individual process lines and for a week afterwards was switching the lines on and off to establish base loads and norm references. After two months  of fiddling and measuring it became apparent that the line was running for 30% of the time with no processing going on at all. A quick rejig of work planning to ensure that jobs were scheduled more efficiently and hey presto £25k worth of energy savings, more than enough payback to convince your FD to allow you to purchase a dozen or so sub meters.

Before you reach for that text book give us a call for a practical review of your energy use  and waste reduction potential in your manufacturing or industrial business.




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