Manufacturing

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1. Processes and process control

Better process control could typically save a company between 5 and 15%.*

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2. Furnaces

Reducing scrap material and improving yield could reduce energy use.*

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3. Boilers and steam distribution

Old, poorly maintained boilers could waste up to 35% of energy input through inefficiencies.*

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4. Process utilities

An idling compressor could still use 40% of its full load.*

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5. Motors and drives

Reducing the motor speed by 20% reduces the power requirement by about 50%.*

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6. Industrial buildings

Staying in control of the heating system could save 10% of costs.*

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6 ways to make your manufacturing business more energy efficient

Manufacturers need to ensure energy usage is efficient. It sounds simple, but if lights, air conditioning, heating and ventilation and other equipment are not required, then they should be switched off.

Control systems are available to do this, such as technologies which switch off lighting when it is not in use.

Assessing heating and ventilation equipment could also make a big difference. Heating large, open spaces is energy intensive so any efforts to prevent heat loss can result in savings for small manufacturers. Steps should be taken to keep the warmth in and the cold out as heat could easily escape out of doors and windows or into unoccupied parts of sites that are often colder than the occupied areas. Old, poorly maintained boilers could also waste up to 35% of energy input through inefficiencies. Well maintained, modern, high efficiency or condensing boilers could have seasonal energy efficiencies of more than 90%, making significant savings.

1. Processes and process control open/close

A poorly controlled plant is almost always a major cause of extravagant energy consumption.

Some people worry about risks of changing their processes. However, analysis and improvement to the production process does not necessarily mean compromising the output.

One of the key ways to improve a process is to improve its control. A well-controlled plant is energy efficient, which could mean better profit margins. Good control systems can minimise the cost of manufacture.

Better process control could typically save a company between 5 and 15% of its process energy.

*Source:
High temperature industry - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business sector overview, Carbon Trust

2. Furnaces open/close

Furnaces usually consume a very large proportion of the energy used. Their efficient use depends on good control and regular maintenance, and their performance could be enhanced in some cases by 'add-on' equipment.

The following actions require little or no expense, but could save energy and money. However, making changes to a furnace, its controls or components will require the help of an expert.

Improve furnace yield

  • This could be achieved by optimising furnace conditions and throughput.
  • Check current operating conditions against design conditions and historical data to determine the optimum furnace conditions for the best yield.
  • Reducing scrap material and improving yield could reduce energy use considerably and may be the biggest single factor in a campaign to reduce the energy use of the furnace.

Look at charging and unloading

  • The way a furnace is charged and unloaded could have a significant effect on its safe operation, yield and energy consumption.

Carry out regular maintenance

  • Effective and regular maintenance is needed to ensure that furnace performance is at an optimum level. Without this, maintenance performance levels will drop off, resulting in poor yields and increased energy use.

Waste heat recovery

  • A large proportion of the energy used by furnaces is lost either in the flue gases or through the hot product. If this heat can be recovered and re-used in the process, then less energy will be required.

*Source:
High temperature industry - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business sector overview, Carbon Trust

3. Boilers and steam distribution open/close

Efficiency in both steam and hot water boilers could be improved through good control and by regular maintenance.

Efficiency could be improved by a number of methods including improving insulation on the boiler and surrounding equipment, looking at 'blowdown' operation and improving heat recovery.

By ensuring efficient steam generation and distribution, you could save between 10% and 30% of the energy used in high temperature boilers and steam systems.

Check for leaks - Look for wisps of steam leaking from faulty steam traps, pipework flanges and joints. Leaks are easily detected and even a small hole can waste a lot of steam so it is important to find and repair them promptly.

Look for redundant pipework - On many older sites, some of the steam distribution system may have become redundant. If this is the case it is important that the redundant part is sealed off as near to the boiler as possible. Otherwise the resulting 'dead leg' could become a source of unnecessary heat losses.

*Source:
High temperature industry - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business sector overview, Carbon Trust

4. Process utilities open/close

Compressed air is a very expensive utility, produced using electricity. It is also a major source of energy wastage. If a compressor is not being used then make sure it is switched off. Pay particular attention to compressors at the end of shifts or over weekends.

Did you know?

  • Compressed air leaking through a single 3mm hole could cost you around £4,000 per year, depending on use and pressure.
  • An idling compressor can still use 40% of its full load.

Most process operations use cooling water. Use of cooling water requires energy to pump the water around the cooling circuit. In many cases, cooling towers are used to cool the water but, in others, refrigeration chillers are used which are big users of energy. Many companies have excellent opportunities to save energy in their plant by minimising the flow of cooling water and by not cooling to a temperature lower than is actually required.

Industrial gas use should be carefully managed to maximise both energy and cost savings. Measure the use of industrial gases carefully and review their usage to identify potential for further reductions.

Through regular monitoring, any high levels of use could be identified and action taken to manage them. The production and storage of industrial gases such as oxygen, nitrogen and argon is highly energy intensive.

*Source:
High temperature industry - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business sector overview, Carbon Trust

5. Motors and drives open/close

Motors are widely used to drive pumps, fans and other equipment. This means that there are likely to be excellent opportunities for energy savings.

Motors are sometimes left on when not required. This wastes money. Where there is a chance of this happening, put in place a procedure to switch off the pump or fan at the end of operation, or even better, use a timer or automatic sensor to turn the pump or fan off.

The process may not need the volume of cooling water or process liquid that is currently pumped. In the same way, fan loads can be reduced by lessening the amount of fresh air drawn into buildings or reducing gas flows used in various process operations.

A variable speed drive (VSD) is an electronic device that controls the characteristics of a motor's electrical supply. If the load on a motor is variable, consider fitting a VSD as it will respond to the varied requirements of the motor and operate more often in its most efficient regime.

Reducing the motor speed by 20% could reduce the power requirement by about 50%, which may offer considerable energy savings. The installation of a VSD is easily justified when there is variable load because of the reduced running costs of the motor. VSDs are not as expensive as you might think. Fitting one to an average motor could cost around £650 – including installation. When you consider that one average (2.2kW) motor can consume over £500 worth of electricity per year, a VSD is well worth the investment.

*Source:
High temperature industry - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business sector overview, Carbon Trust

6. Industrial buildings open/close

Energy use in buildings is likely to form a small part of the overall energy use of the site. However, it is an important area to look at because the potential for savings may be significant.

Industrial buildings typically require large areas for storage and production and often have high ceilings and considerable ventilation rates.

Heating control systems are sometimes tampered with in response to a change in weather conditions or a change in shift patterns.

Staying in control of the heating system could save 10% of costs. Focus on these simple measures:

  • Check the thermostat regularly and set to the recommended temperature (19-21°C for site offices, 16-19°C for workshops and 10-12°C for stores).
  • Check all timer switches regularly
  • Discuss the costs of heating at team meetings and encourage people not to leave doors and windows open.

*Source:
High temperature industry - Introducing energy saving opportunities for business sector overview, Carbon Trust