Is Your Manufacturing Plant Taking Advantage of Energy Management Opportunities? By Bill Wright, Manufacturing System Consultant, InSource Solutions What is keeping companies from starting an effective and sustainable energy management program (EMS)? Seems strange. Study after study outlines higher ROI (on investments less than $100,000) than other popular cost saving projects. To be clear, I’m not talking about the kind of programs that are completed one time, that is, fixing the basics, such as, installing a LED lighting system or repairing and replacing low consumption devises like small inductive motors. This is known as the “passive efficiency” approach. I’m speaking about the “active efficiency” approach. This approach requires optimization through technology. Too often manufacturing companies considering investing in an Energy Management System (EMS) think the investment in dollars for the right technology is too high. For that reason, companies choose to invest in the “passive efficiency” programs. These programs will provide savings. In some plants, passive energy actions can generate savings of 10% and 15%. These actions are good and needed, however, they are not sustainable. You can’t improve what you can’t measure. And, you can’t measure what you can’t see. That is why an effective “active” energy program includes technology that enables visibility of where, when, and how a plant consumes electricity, gas, and water as well as compressed air and steam. Active energy efficiency is needed to maximize and sustain the gains from passive energy efficiency actions, and bring additional savings to the plant, as much as 30%. Active energy efficiency seeks to use energy more intelligently, to achieve the same results with less. So, what is the holdup? In my experience, the holdup is leadership not understanding what the path to energy maturity looks like. Yes, in order to transform the manufacturing floor, technologies need to be applied. In fact, new cloud based solutions and low cost IIOT (industrial internet of things) sensors have lowered the cost to play. However, just adopting / acquiring technology tools measuring energy consumption in real time will not help an organization to automatically see improvements that are sustained. There is more to do. Having the right processes, and effectively engaging the people, leveraging the right technology is the plant’s path to successful energy maturity. Energy maturity should be continuous and everyone in the plant plays a part and has impact. Furthermore, energy mature companies often begin with little or no knowledge of energy consumption, actions, and sustainability. For this reason, it must begin with leadership and the following essential characteristics. Vision and Strategy Leadership Communication and Expectations Plans and Objectives Organization and People System of Measurement Action and Continuous Improvement Once the plant makes a commitment to energy maturity, the whole plant should be aware from the CEO to the machine operator how the plant is performing to established targets each day. The plant should see the beginning of the “Energy Efficiency Lifecycle”. With an effective Energy Management System, manufacturers can lower consumption costs, accurately identify true product cost, make intelligent proactive production decisions, provide efficient planning, market green initiative programs, and improve their competitive position. So, what are you waiting for?