14/07/2022

3 Levers to Save Energy Cost in Manufacturing

In this article we talk about hidden sources of energy waste in production and what your maintenance team can do about it.

Energy-efficient production has become a focus topic for both large companies and SMEs in recent years. More and more companies have realised that they can improve their corporate reputation with customers, employees and investors through environmentally friendly and energy-efficient production and thus set themselves apart from their competitors. 

But only those who know the actual energy consumption of their plants, operating units and processes can identify areas where there is potential for savings. To do this, companies need two crucial things:
  
  1. The latest data from production
  2. Someone who can analyse this data and interpret it correctly to discover potential savings.
Production managers of small and medium-sized companies have many responsibilities. Among other things, they ensure that production facilities are operated in an energy-efficient manner. However, their focus is usually on the actual production and product quality, and only secondarily on reducing energy costs. 

On average, these costs account for 5% to 10% of total production costs. This is a savings potential that no manufacturing company should do without today.
  

Three causes of wasted energy in production

Cause #1: Reactive maintenance

If manufacturing companies rely mainly on reactive maintenance and repair their equipment only after it has already broken down, they are wasting valuable energy. 
The reason? Reactive maintenance is less costly and time-consuming in the short term than preventive maintenance. However, in the long run, it makes production equipment less reliable and less efficient. 
As efficiency decreases, the equipment consumes more energy for the same output. Equipment value decreases.
 

Cause #2: Inefficient operating practices

Even small inefficiencies can cause energy consumption in production to skyrocket. While many factories don't produce 24/7, they do run their heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems all day. Turning off HVAC systems, even if only for two hours a day, can reduce energy consumption, cut energy cost and reduce your operation's carbon footprint at the same time.
   

Cause #3: Scrap and reworked products

When production lines are down due to a defect, products often have to be removed from the production line during repair work and either be disposed of or reworked. The additional operating time for reworking the products increases energy consumption. This not only leads to higher energy costs, but also means that more labour and resources have to be spent on each reworked or discarded product. This reduces the value added in production.
  

3 levers in maintenance to reduce energy costs

Lever #1: Collect meaningful equipment data. 

One way to reduce excessive energy consumption is to identify problematic equipment trends and correct them before they cause serious problems. 

This process starts with collecting solid data and creating meaningful reports from that information. If you use maintenance software, it can help you to accurately collect the data and turn it into meaningful reports. Sensors on the equipment measure various parameters of the equipment, such as vibrations. 

This allows you to identify potential problems with equipment and take action before they lead to a breakdown. This means less scrap and rework for you and less energy consumption and lower costs for your company.
  

Lever #2: Create digital work orders.

Maintenance software can help you automate your work orders, standardise tasks and easily reduce energy consumption in small but effective steps. 

For example, set up daily work orders to alert your team to energy-saving tasks. Such tasks could be putting equipment in energy-saving mode or setting cooling systems to a higher temperature. 

Attach standard checklists for frequent maintenance and repairs to your digital work orders. This will ensure that your team performs maintenance correctly and that the equipment is working as efficiently as possible.
  

Lever #3: Develop a preventive maintenance routine.

A well-planned maintenance routine is critical to keeping your equipment in optimal condition for as long as possible. 

Check key assets regularly to identify and correct problems before they increase and affect the functionality of the facility. 

Build a solid data foundation that you can develop your maintenance routine on. Only with meaningful data can you determine what is the most efficient way to maintain your equipment and decide when to replace equipment with more energy-efficient models. 

Here again, maintenance software can help you develop a solid preventive maintenance strategy. By using tools for automated scheduling, digital work orders or notifications, you can gradually achieve higher equipment efficiency, lower energy consumption and ultimately reduce costs in production.
   

Conclusion

In order to identify and realise potential savings, companies need to know the energy consumption of their production facilities and processes first. Maintenance teams can utilise these three levers to contribute to a more energy efficient production.
   
  1. Meaningful equipment data that is regularly analysed and reviewed for areas that need optimisation,
  2. Digital and automated work orders that standardise tasks and reduce energy consumption in small, effective steps, and
  3. A well thought-out preventive maintenance routine that ensures your equipment is in optimal condition for as long as possible. 

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