Manufacturing sector ‘too focused on quick, easy energy wins’

emissions300With manufacturing being responsible for the lion’s share of British industry’s consumption of 320TWh of energy and the emission of 95 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, an industry expert says the sector has been too focused on implementing easy and low cost energy saving initiatives rather than looking at the bigger picture

According to James Palmer from the energy data management firm IMServ, the sector may have made minor energy reductions such as introducing low energy bulbs, encouraging staff to turn off lights and including PIR sensors in toilets but with lighting only accounting for 20% of the UK’s energy usage, looking at the other 80% was critical.

He estimates that average savings of up to 30% could be made if measures like installing sub metering were taken to tackle the most energy intensive parts of a manufacturing business.

Companies in industrial sectors such as cement & ceramics, chemicals, engineering, food and drink, paper manufacturing and publishing/printing typically treated energy bills as a fixed cost but are under increasing pressure to reduce energy expenditure and increase profits, Palmer says. He continued: “Being able to accurately measure energy usage in the first instance via automated meter readers is the way forward for these sectors.

He suggests that specific areas that will make an impact on energy costs include:

• Identify overnight power users
• Sub meter production lines to identify best performers
• Set up league tables to allow comparisons of different manufacturing sites
• Install lux sensors to maximise the value of ambient lighting and ensure orientation of lighting banks are parallel to windows
• Control heating and cooling intelligently to take into account outside temperature, building fabric and orientation
• Use dashboards to gain employee buy in, directly relating data to production units or profit
• Monitor electricity, gas, water and oil/diesel and use a single point to correlate all data
• Install a variable speed drive, this can save up to 30% on running costs
• Turn off compressors. An idling compressor can use up to 40% of its full load
• Ensure accurate energy monitoring in order to give the precise ROI on new equipment not just an ROI on the monitoring hardware

This material is protected by copyright Ken Hurst 2013.


About Ken Hurst

Ken Hurst began his career as a journalist in London over 30 years ago, working on a range of publications before moving on to weekly newspaper production in the newly-independent Zambia of the 1970s. He returned to the UK where his work included spells on newspapers and magazines, before moving to head up Norwich Union’s corporate affairs division. In the 1990s he moved on to freelance, co-own and publish the B2B audio magazine Sound and front the BBC radio Yesterday’s Papers programme. There followed six years as Business Editor at Britain’s biggest selling regional daily newspaper, The Eastern Daily Press, where he led an award-winning team and for whom he still writes a weekly socio/political comment column. Subsequently, he was Group Editorial Director at CBM, responsible for its UK and US magazine output – including The Manufacturer magazine – research-driven industry reports and live events content. Currently he is Contributing Editor at Works Management magazine publisher Findlay Media and Chairman of the consumer publishing house TNT Multimedia Ltd. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and of the British Association of Communicators in Business.
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