Manufacturing success often hinges upon a plant manager’s ability to use data wisely. When they spot inefficiencies, they can take corrective measures and increase margins. Some inefficiencies are easier to solve than others. With recent advancements in manufacturing technologies, optimizing energy consumption has become low hanging fruit. Energy use and costs continue to climb. One-fifth of plants saw energy costs rise by more than 10% within 2011. Taking action now will result in added cost savings in the future.
Leaders in the manufacturing industry are tuning into their energy-management information and coming up with solutions that make fundamental changes to their manufacturing environment. They can easily expect at least a 15% reduction in use.
1) You can’t improve what you don’t measure: Collect
The most general measurement is gathering and reporting your facility’s energy use over time. Most facilities already have a form of this in place due to EPA regulations for reporting emissions compliance. To get the data you need to integrate energy metrics into production operations, you need to meter with more specificity starting with the main, then at each switch gear and then at each high value asset.
Using meters, sensors, programmable logic controllers (PLCs), intelligent motor controllers, and power monitors connected through energy management software tools, manufacturers can capture and analyze the energy data necessary to make strategic energy decisions.
2) Visualizing the right data will maximize the benefit
Water, air, gas, electricity, and steam (WAGES) resource use should be on a continuous cycle of improvement. Visualizing WAGES information through an HMI gives managers and workforces the ability to stay focused on capturing incremental energy-management improvements.
Plant managers can develop threshold alarms and enable real-time energy management to make strategic adjustments, and address questions such as:
- Did a machine draw more energy than normal? Why?
- Are there startup surges? Can they be prevented?
- Did an event cause a production cycle to go too long? Did it overlap with a peak-draw period?
Comparing visual information to production costs to make informed energy decisions at every step in the manufacturing process is important. These small adjustments accrue significant cost, compliance, and performance benefits for optimum production efficiency.
3) Implementing the controls to maximize efficiency
Process automation supercharges energy management. VFDs, servos, linear motion devices, boiler control systems, digital control systems and intelligent field devices allow manufacturers to schedule production intelligently, optimize power, generate energy, reduce clean-in-place operations, and sequence asset startups to minimize the impact of peak loading.
With the right mix of expertise, processes and technology, your plant can start saving on energy costs almost immediately. Give us a call today if you would like to see how much you could save in 2014.