Industrial energy management is becoming a mature discipline

Energy efficiency and energy management has evolved to the point where manufacturers can make some major strides in their business initiatives.

10/13/2013


New flexible test machines could revolutionize aerospace and automotive subsystem testing. Courtesy: Red VikingWhenever you ask an industry analyst or consultant about the best way to approach a new strategic business initiative, among the first words you’re likely to hear are these: Start by going after the low-hanging fruit. 

That, of course, is an analogy that equates setting business goals with the act of reaching for fruit on the branches of a tree that are closest to the ground. It affords the opportunity to grab a handful of cherries, apples, or whatever your fruit of choice might be, by simply lifting a hand with your feet planted firmly on the ground. It’s only when you want to reap bushels full of fruit that you need to devise a strategy for climbing up into the tree and getting down with your desired rewards without risking life and limb in the process. 

In business, going after the harder-to-reach fruit requires risking precious corporate dollars and possibly the jobs of people who devise strategies that don’t yield the expected harvest.

Consultants advise going for the low-hanging fruit because it lessens risks by allowing for quick, tangible benefits. 

Those fast, easy wins can help gain staff buy-in to new business initiatives. They also impress upper management, making it easier to win approval for higher-level projects.

Be ready for higher-level projects

The content of this supplement to Control Engineering proves that when it comes to industrial energy management, manufacturers can now take on projects that go beyond reaching for low-hanging fruit. 

The cover story, “Going Green in Powertrain and Engine Testing,” highlights a new line of systems being used to test major aircraft subsystems. These systems are proving to be six times more energy efficient than most current systems used for the same purpose. 

The major technological breakthrough associated with these systems is a method that allows for regenerating energy that can be returned to the test system for its own use or passed on to the power grid. The article also points out that this energy regeneration process already is being used beyond the aerospace industry and could be valuable in numerous industrial settings.

The second article, “Energy Monitoring has a new Upper Limit,” points out how the growth of industrial Ethernet networks is making it easier to track and analyze energy usage patterns. Using this capability, manufacturers can devise many creative ways of optimizing energy dollars. One manufacturer discovered it was more cost effective to have its maintenance staff conduct monthly tests on production equipment at 6:00 a.m., rather than follow its long-standing practice of running such tests during the lunch hour. 

The 6:00 a.m. test time requires paying overtime, but an analysis of energy use and pricing proved that the overtime pay was less than the cost of paying the peak pricing rates that the utility company charges at lunch time. 

This supplement also contains two articles that appear exclusively in the digital edition. , “Smart Energy Management without Wires,” explains why energy harvesting wireless technology is an ideal solution for companies that want to improve the energy efficiency of older industrial facilities.

“Creative Financing for Energy Management Projects” presents new methods of obtaining the funding for energy management initiatives.

In short, this supplement shows that industrial energy management is becoming a mature discipline and vendors are hard at work developing tools to further its advancement. 

This article is part of the Industrial Energy Management supplement for CFE Media publications. 

See the links at the bottom of this article to read other articles in this supplement.



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