The energy crisis has affected businesses in all sectors, but perhaps none harder than those in manufacturing. Glass, ceramic and paper manufacturers warned that rising prices may mean they have to charge customers more. Manufacturers in energy-intensive industries such as steel and chemical also warned that the price of goods would increase for consumers because of the high and rising energy costs.
The UK government did offer support to manufacturers to help ease the costs of power, but many businesses still had to find ways of reducing production in order to cut energy costs.
In this post, we discuss some things you as a manufacturing business can do to help mitigate rising power costs.
Take advantage of off-peak hours
As a manufacturer, it is likely that you are running energy-intensive processes throughout any part of the day, not just between normal working hours. Considering this, then, you should strongly consider having a utility company that offers lower rates during off-peak periods and flexible tariffs (if you do not have these, head over to our price comparison tool and shop for a new flexible tariff now.)
You should then schedule the use of energy consuming machinery for off-peak periods. This will help you reduce your energy bills without losing out on production needs. Part of this may require you to also produce your products on demand – or when you have strong sales demand for your products at particular times. This will help you reclaim energy expenditure and determine the cost effectiveness of your production process.
Yes, this all may require precise and careful planning and scheduling, but it will pay off in the end with lower energy bills.
If you need help in scheduling your production needs during off-peak hours, contact our sister company, ClearVUE Systems, which offers business energy and sustainability consultancy services.
Keep motors motoring efficiently
Motor systems are found in processing equipment, HVAC systems, air compressors, and much more. It is crucial to keep these different motor systems running efficiently, achieving this by either regular maintenance or complete upgrades.
Beforehand, you will want to locate, identify, and document all motor systems in your facilities. Note their conditions and specifications to help you with the upkeep or replacement needs as required. After the motors are either replaced or repaired, monitor their performances to see if any energy cost savings have been made.
Consider installing adjustable-speed drives (ASD) or variable-speed drives (VSD) to match speed to load requirements. This will ensure that motor energy for a particular process or machine is used optimally. From this, you may see energy savings anywhere between 5 and 60 percent.
Maintain compressed air
Compressed air is one of the least energy efficient systems as it requires tons of energy for compression and distribution. If you have compressed air systems in your facility, they should be used as minimally as possible. You should also monitor their performance very carefully over time.
As with any other machine or system, regular maintenance should be scheduled for compressed air units. Poorly maintained units have lower compression efficiency, and there will likely be an increase of air leakage or pressure variability.
Consider these suggestions to reduce the loss of energy from your air compressors:
- Check for blocked pipeline filters.
- Monitor cooling systems for your motors. Poor motor cooling increases motor temperature and thus increases energy consumption.
- Use proper monitoring of compressed air systems to save energy and money. This can include monitoring pressure and temperature gauges, checking flow meters and dew point gauges, and checking kilowatt-hour meters and hours-run meters.
- Reduce leaks and pipes in equipment as much as possible. Fixing leaks in a compressed air system is projected to reduce annual energy consumption by 20 percent.
- Reduce the pressure used as much as possible to operate a system.
Take care of those steam units, too
Steam – whether it is used for process heating, drying, concentrating, distillation, and driving machinery – requires regular efficiency improvements to ensure optimisation in production and energy savings. Consider the following steps to keep steam units running at their best:
- Get a boil tune-up to ensure it has the right fuel-to-air ratio. Energy is wasted when excess air is used to burn fuel.
- Use a properly sized boiler system to operate the correct steam pressure for your facility. The reduction of stack temperature, radiation loss, and leaks will save you energy and costs.
- Improve boiler insulation with newer insulation material. You can save up to 25 percent with improved insulation.
- Improving and maintaining distribution system insulation can save energy in steam systems.
- Repair leaks in steam distribution systems. According to the US Department of Energy, repairing leaks in an industrial steam distribution system will lead to 5–10 percent energy savings.
More practical energy-saving tips
Here are other practical tips to follow that will help you save on energy costs and consumption:
- Ensure that you turn off machines when they are not in use.
- Keep doors closed as often as possible to reduce heat or cooling loss in rooms.
- Regularly maintain your HVAC systems and facility insulation.
- Install programmable thermostats to regulate the climate of your rooms and facilities.
- Install motion-detecting light fixtures in corridors and storage areas – or anywhere where foot traffic is not constant – to help reduce unnecessary electricity waste.
- Make energy saving a collaborative effort. Encourage staff members to turn off computers, practice smart kitchen appliance usage, be conservative with water consumption, and so on.
Looking for energy saving tips for different sectors? Check out our other guides: