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Implementing a Holistic Energy and Utilities Evaluation to Improve Sustainable Production

By: Doug Burns, Practice Lead, Sustainable Production, Rockwell Automation
Posted: July 7, 2009

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While the CEM can use general benchmark goals (see Table 1) to help develop the final analysis, his or her experience is crucial in taking into account local conditions—such as the size of the plant, the degree of automation, the impact of seasonal differences, and even special terms and conditions in utilities contracts. Each of these variables can significantly impact a manufacturer’s specific energy savings potential.

The final analysis, together with your team’s knowledge and experience, will form the basis for a collaborative investigation of the energy consumption within individual areas of the plant.

Collectively Synchronizing Generation Against Demand

Once your critical objectives are paired with the areas of opportunity, a more in-depth examination of the processes can start. A CEM will work with you to complete a walking tour of the facility. On the generation side, he or she will evaluate the efficiency of boilers, chilled water systems and air compressors, analyze the water/wastewater streams and systems, and explore the possibility of installing alternative systems, such as coupled heat and power (CHP) plants or solar panels.

On the consumption side, application and domain professionals can compare the current processes in place against the latest technologies available in the market to identify potential savings by investing in newer technologies. The deployment of new processes can result in reduced energy costs as well as in increased capacity, shortened cycle times or reduced product losses.

Although it is important that the individual processes are examined for their energy consumption, it is equally important that optimization of the individual processes is not completed in isolation. The CEM can help your in-house team develop an energy management plan that allows for the appropriate synchronization of processes to provide multiple benefits from one action. For example, heat exchange from cooling down a product in one process can deliver the heat needed for processes at another stage of production. Scheduling each of these steps in the manufacturing process, with respect to the energy they consume and the energy available through the utilities systems, can reduce spikes in electricity consumption and avoid surcharges on energy prices.

Identifying the Savings Opportunities