Create a small, but powerful energy conservation policy

Which sounds worse to you: That gasoline prices are headed past $3 a gallon, or that gasoline prices have gone up 100% since last summer? Not much of a choice there, is it? A year ago in our cover story on energy, we pointed to the sharp rise in fuel prices – in particular that gasoline had just gone past $2 a gallon.

05/01/2006


Which sounds worse to you: That gasoline prices are headed past $3 a gallon, or that gasoline prices have gone up 100% since last summer? Not much of a choice there, is it?

A year ago in our cover story on energy, we pointed to the sharp rise in fuel prices %%MDASSML%% in particular that gasoline had just gone past $2 a gallon. Ah, the good old days.

Now as fuel prices continue to shoot up, the higher prices threaten to further cut into operating costs, revenue growth and profits %%MDASSML%% all at a time when the economy in general and manufacturing in particular is finding some solid footing.

Now, it is a more sober, thoughtful world that attacks the energy issue. While the current pain is real, maybe being more thoughtful about energy is not such a bad thing. It is going to take thoughtful people and purposeful action to extract us from our misuse of energy.

Change is evolutionary. It starts in small ways and grows. Yet the problem is so large, it seems overwhelming. How do we solve the energy crisis in manufacturing?

Simply, we don’t. YOU solve it at your plant, on your shop floor, in your organization. When PLANT ENGINEERING wrote about the issue of energy management a year ago, we offered solutions that every manufacturer could implement right away to address the issue. A few are worth repeating today:

  • Do an energy audit: You need benchmark standards for every aspect of a plant’s successful operation. You need one for energy consumption as well. If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. Simply put, this is where any energy management process must begin.

  • Manage your indoor environment: Find ways to move air, to cool machines, to effectively light workspaces that both enhance the work environment and don’t suck up energy. Check with your local supplier. He’s got LOTS of new ideas.

  • Manage travel and transportation: How do you get materials from Point A to Point B, and what is the cost of doing that? If you don’t know how much energy you consume in transportation %%MDASSML%% both inside your facility as well as to your customers — you can’t know how much your costs will rise.

  • Don’t forget the “other” costs: Do a good job on electricity and petroleum and forget about energy efficiencies in water and compressed air, and you’ve only tackled half the problem. Looking for cost savings in every corner of your operation is well worth the effort.

  • Ask your employees. After the energy audit, this may be the most important thing you can do %%MDASSML%% and probably, it’s the most overlooked. The people who know the most about what is wasted in manufacturing are the people who do the manufacturing. They have a lot of answers. The trouble is, very often we forget to ask them the questions.

    • The important item, again this year, is to begin someplace. Implement your own policy, create your own energy czar, and beat the rush of higher energy prices this summer.





No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.