The Manufacturing Industry’s Energy Cost Problem

The Manufacturing Industry’s Energy Cost Problem

Manufacturers across the U.S. and indeed the entire world are starting to see energy costs as one of the most significant unaddressed issues facing their industry.

Energy markets are volatile due to religious events half a world away, but it’s politics in our own backyard that have led to greenhouse gas emissions; add that to the growing competitive pressures of

globalization, and manufacturers are scrabbling for every advantage they can find. But is it possible to reduce energy costs without negatively affecting throughput or end-product quality? Of course it is — and with a bit of care taken, the investment can even pay for itself within a few years! Furthermore, the best energy cost solutions bring some significant side benefits with them, such as increased process efficiency, reduced long-term maintenance costs, and other items that can add to their impact.

Energy Use In Manufacturing

Unlike most industries, while manufacturing plants do use energy — be it fuel or electricity — for the usual variety of purposes (lighting, HVAC, refrigeration), there is a category of use that is nearly unique to manufacturing, and it’s almost always far and away the most significant consumer of electricity: motor systems, a.k.a. “the actual machine that does the bulk of the manufacturing work.

Across the United States, the average manufacturing plant’s electricity usage breaks down into:

52% Motor Systems

11% Process-related Heating 8% Process-related Electrochemical Processes 8% Facility HVAC 7% Process-related Cooling/Refrigeration 6% Facility Lighting 7% Other

And the average U.S. manufacturing plant uses fuel energy for the following purposes:

44% Process-related Heating 22% Boiler Fuel 20% Combined Heat and Power (CHP)/cogeneration 6% Facility HVAC 3% Motor Systems 5% Other

Clearly, while the standard array of energy-saving measures designed to help reduce the energy costs of an office building, warehouse, or restaurant will be useful to a manufacturer, they have a unique need: optimizing the energy efficiency of their big bad motor systems.

Motor Systems and Energy

Obviously, then, the question boils down to:
“how can you maximize the energy efficiency of your motor systems?”
The answer is as complex as you might think. The simplified version goes like this:

  1. Determine how much energy (generally defined as WAGES — Water, Air, Gas, Electricity, and Steam) your facility actually uses not just as a whole, but at the process levels and eventually, as a dividend of product throughput. Monitor shifts in energy use on the daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly levels and ferret out the causes of meaningful increases and decreases in usage. As causes of energy decreases that can be controlled are discovered, seek ways that they can be duplicated across other times, processes, or facilities.
  2. Leverage energy-efficient changes in design, such as cogeneration and reuse of waste heat, to maximize the efficiency of your existing equipment..
  3. Upgrade to energy-efficient equipment such as variable-frequency electric motors, advanced motion-control systems, and similar methods of reducing wasted energy.
  4. Implement behavioral systems to get operators thinking about energy expenditure and conservation as they go about their work, from turning off unused lights to scheduling equipment repairs and replacement to coincide with pre-existing unavoidable downtimes.
  5. Forecast your future production level, repair/replacement, and energy use requirements, and take proactive steps to avoid inefficient ‘spikes’ and ‘slumps’ in each of them.
  6. Automate emergency responses to take place instantly when a black swan event forces a complete stop of production, or when other massive but rare events would cause enormous inefficiencies if it took the human operators a normal human amount of time to recognize and respond to a given disaster.
  7. Provide each motor system electricity that is customized to the needs of its specific electric motors and other electrical systems.

Obviously, these steps will, for many manufacturers, require the installation of a vast system that overlays their existing facility — something that can constantly and passively measure WAGES use and produce reports, that can remotely and instantly control potentially hundreds of devices across your facility in response to any number of events or on a predetermined schedule. In short, energy efficiency on the Motor Systems level requires a carefully-programmed computer with a huge number of inputs providing data and outputs controlling devices.

Introducing The Energy Money Saver

A top-of-the-line power conditioner that resculpts the waveforms of all of the electricity coming into your facility from the grid or coming from inside your facility via generators or batteries. With the conditioner in place, every electric device you use will last longer, use less electricity, and transport electronic data with less packet loss. The power conditioning element alone is, in a manufacturing setting, often enough to pay for the system’s installation within 5 years; the entire unit, when installed and used properly, has been known to pay for itself within 2 years. Let’s look at how exactly those savings can be achieved, first at the Motor Systems level and then again facility-wide.

The EMS and Manufacturing Motor Systems

The Power Conditioning unit of the EMS is the quintessential tool needed to ensure that every Motor System in your facility is getting energy that is precisely crafted to match its needs. This is important on two levels: first, a motor that is receiving too much or too little voltage will build up heat that can damage the motor and increase repair/replacement costs; second, a motor that receives electricity that is out-of-phase with its needs actually sends a decent bit of that power back to the power company — which still charges you for it!

The EMS and Your Entire Facility

The potential ways in which a smart system like the EMS can save energy within a manufacturing facility are limited mostly by the dedication and creativity put into its programming by a facility manager that has their eye on long-term profitability. Linsyx Energy guarantees that if you allow us to come in and audit your manufacturing plant’s energy use, we can install an EMS system and program it in a way that will save you an absolute minimum of 15% on your energy bill every month. Call us today!