Client Resources, Supply Chain Trends

Improve Manufacturing Efficiency by Looking at Your Energy Usage

As the economy picks up steam, the competition between companies is picking up as well, highlighting the need for organizations to seek out every advantage possible.

Increasing energy efficiency is one way companies can gain a much-needed advantage over a competitor.

To determine if significant energy savings can be found, many companies start by conducting an internal energy audit. This assessment should concentrate on the areas of a company that might be more energy efficient. The audit should reveal how energy is being utilized and the best opportunities to save energy.

After an audit has been performed, company managers can draw up plans for taking advantage of energy-saving opportunities.

Conducting an energy audit

Energy audits often start by looking at lighting and HVAC systems. In addition to looking at equipment upgrades, companies should take into consideration improvements to manufacturing operations, enhanced operation and maintenance procedures, utility rates and various power options.

With respect to utilities, an audit should examine the charges that comprise monthly bills and seek out opportunities to reduce electricity costs. In particular, an audit should investigate electricity charges, electric demand, seasonal rates and daily time-of-use charges. Auditors should assess alternative electric rates to distinguish opportunities for cost savings.

Along with implementing energy efficiency steps to reduce electric energy, controlling electric demand through peak demand shaving, or enrollment in utility demand response programs, can be an efficient way to lessen expenses.

An audit should also assess a company’s natural gas usage. Company auditors should evaluate and enhance the efficiency of gas-fired assets. Boiler operations are another area where natural gas savings could be had.

Auditors should also assess possibilities to utilize waste heat. Many companies are capturing their waste heat to produce electricity, reduce heating costs or feed back into their production processes.

Finally, an audit should look at insulation of equipment, ducting, piping, valves, and flanges – as well as review and repair pipe leaks and steam traps.

Creating a plan from audit results

Based on the results of the internal audit, a company should produce a long-term plan to reduce energy costs.

For the plan to be successful, it must compliment any long-term business strategy, including any expansion, special projects or product changes, and targets for return on investment. Outcomes of the energy audit can be used to produce a list of energy savings possibilities. These savings could be considered based on the savings achieved, cost, return on investment, and compatibility with long-term plans. An energy-saving plan also can include sustainability goals, such as reduction in the company’s carbon footprint.

In implementing such a plan, company managers should seek out any public or private incentives associated with adopting energy-saving measures. Company managers should also be constantly tracking the success record of the plan and making adjustments as necessary.

If part of your energy savings plan calls for looking at your supply chain talent, consider contacting ZDA today. We can provide your company with the custom solutions needed to help increase your supply chain efficiency.


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