The ultimate energy efficiency guide for manufacturing businesses

13 October 2017

With large buildings to power and expensive equipment to run, manufacturers can be faced with costly energy usage. As such, businesses in this sector need to be prudent when it comes to managing the bottom line.

Through a few simple changes, your manufacturing business could make a real difference to its energy efficiency.

Energy is a significant overhead cost for all businesses, from small start-ups to larger corporate organisations; factor in the necessary responsibilities and compliances that manufacturers must adhere to on a daily basis, and costs can start to mount up.

Follow our tips and actionable advice below to find out about ways you can manage your manufacturing businesses’ energy usage more efficiently.

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Identify your energy usage peak

Peak demand charges are calculated over a 15-minute interval where your business uses the greatest amount of energy in any given billing period, and can sometimes equal up to 30% of an industrial organisation’s monthly utility bill.

They’re impossible to identify just by viewing your utility bill, but using automated meter reading technology, real-time visibility of energy usage and its peaks become obvious. Once the inefficiencies and waste, down-time energy consumption and peaks have been identified, you can start to develop efficiency strategies, potentially lowering your demand charges in the process.

Schedule start-up and shut down periods

Consider when the optimal time for machinery use is. By scheduling production floor shut downs, where all your machinery is powered off for a length of time – such as during the weekend or off-shift periods – you can help to lower your energy costs markedly.

These shutdown periods offer an insight into energy usage, and can help you determine if any savings are being made. Part of the peak demand mentioned above may be caused by powering up all the machinery in your facility at once, so look into staggering your equipment start-up in order to reduce these energy spikes. Likewise, consider which machinery requires the most energy to run and schedule the use of these machines outside of peak hours if possible.

Optimise air compressors

If your day-to-day activities are siphoning energy, then take a look at your air compressors. The compressed air produced by using electricity, along with the compressors themselves, play a large part in creating energy wastage.

 At the very least, make sure it’s switched off when not in use – as even an idling compressor can still use 40% and up to 70% of its full load. Compressed air leakages can also make a big impact on wastage, so be sure to perform regular leak tests on the distribution pipework affected by compressed air. Label and repair leaks found as quickly as you can.

Create an energy management team

Having a dedicated team responsible for the management of energy can yield dividends when it comes to savings, but it’s something a lot of manufacturing businesses forego. Once you make clear whose responsibility it is to create cost-saving initiatives, it becomes easier to begin a process of energy management.

Synthesise the knowledge of a representative from each department and use those who have an incentive to keep costs low. Monitoring energy usage throughout the facility will become clearer once the correct people are in place. 

Maintain furnace performance

If your factory uses a furnace, then regularly maintaining its performance is integral to reducing wasted energy.

Make sure that the operation of your furnace is in line with a production schedule, as under-utilised furnaces can significantly affect your energy consumption. Additionally, recovering the waste heat created by furnaces in the production process, and re-using it again, can help reduce the amount of overall energy used.

Don’t forget about housekeeping

Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference when it comes to managing energy usage effectively:

  1. Get into the habit of being more mindful of your factory’s lighting. Encourage employees to switch off lights when they’re not in use, and label switches accordingly so it’s easy to see which switch controls which light. Additionally, consider replacing traditional light bulbs with more energy efficient LED alternatives.
  1. It’s possible to recirculate the heat created by production lines as a means of warming your building. Also, keep an eye on your boiler – ensure it’s regularly serviced and tuned.
  1. If your building uses fridges in its production, make sure their door seals are fully functioning. A faulty seal could increase a unit’s power use by 11%, while soiled refrigeration condensers can increase costs by around 26%.

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  1. Make sure your thermostat is set to the recommended temperature. Similarly, make sure employees don’t leave doors and windows open at the end of their shifts. Educate your employees on how they can help your energy efficiency effort, and highlight anything they can do to help throughout the building.
  1. Installing motion sensor lights can help optimise energy use throughout all areas of the factory. This is particularly beneficial for factories which house a number of different sections and areas which are only used during part of the working day. Lights which automatically turn off may seem like a small money-saving venture, but the long-term benefits can soon outstrip the initial cost.

 Have you enjoyed this article? Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Gazprom Energy blog and newsfeed for more of the latest articles and features. Alternatively, to find out about our range of business energy services, visit the homepage or call us today on 0161 837 3395.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within this article are those of our third-party content providers alone and do not represent those of Gazprom Energy. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. Gazprom Energy accepts no liability for any errors, omissions or representations.

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