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Manufacturers Need a More Holistic Approach to Energy Management

Posted By Andy Chatha, November 11, 2010 at 10:53 AM, in Category: Sustainability

Are you really using your energy most efficiently?

As ever-increasing worldwide demand continues to push energy prices upward, maybe it’s time manufacturing companies took a broader view of how they can save money and manage their energy consumption more effectively.

Industry is one of the largest consumers of energy, and manufacturers have long considered managing consumption and minimizing costs high priorities. Many companies have already done much to improve the energy efficiency of their plants by repairing or replacing old or inefficient equipment, and optimizing maintenance, instrumentation, and automation programs.

Good start. But that’s only the first step in building and maintaining an effective energy management program that can pay dividends over time.

Organizations now need a broader perspective that takes a more holistic approach to energy management, beyond discrete projects at the equipment and plant level. Those that actively manage energy inputs and emissions on a daily basis and leverage automation and information technologies in a more systematic and consistent manner will have a competitive advantage going forward.

And that’s going to become even more important in the future. The increasingly dynamic energy market, where energy prices sometimes change several times a day, makes managing energy costs increasingly complex. The expected cap and trade system for carbon emissions will further complicate matters.

So how do you improve? There are many energy management strategies, functions, and solutions available today.

Most ERP suppliers offer, or are developing, sustainability and energy and emission management solutions that help companies take a broader view of their global assets and coordinate efforts among disciplines such as finance, purchasing, operations, engineering, and maintenance.

Plant automation technologies, such as advanced motor drives, electrical systems, field devices, regulatory control, advanced control, optimization, and production management systems, can also help by reducing demand or increasing efficiency. Simulation, advanced process control (APC), and optimization also play an important role in optimizing energy usage. Historically, APC projects have been focused on throughput.  Recently, we at ARC have noticed a significant increase in the adoption rate of these technologies specifically aimed at optimizing energy use by reducing consumption, emissions, and costs. That’s an encouraging step forward.

Manufacturers now must address energy management from the enterprise level down to field devices and motor controls. Those that are able to accurately measure, monitor, predict, and control their energy will not only lower their energy consumption, wastes, and costs, they will also create a power-shift in their competitive readiness for the future.

Andy Chatha is the president and founder of ARC Advisory Group, and a member of the Manufacturing Executive Leadership Board.

Category: Sustainability
Written by Andy Chatha

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