New approaches to asset management yield big energy savings


Holistic view to energy management

Operating cost savings: This graph shows the savings associated with operating five 200 cfm compressors with a computer-based controller versus a single 1,000 cfm compressor. In addition saving on energy costs, the five-compressor system boots reliabilityIndustrial companies should be at the forefront of the energy efficiency movement, since this sector outpaces most others when it comes to energy consumption. Motors consume roughly 65% of industrial electricity in the U.S., yet only 10% of these applications have an efficient method of keeping motor speeds in sync with process demand. In the production environment, there are significant savings and benefits to be gained through effective energy management of motors and production equipment.

Understanding the facility's total energy usage over time-knowing why energy is used and how that consumption impacts overall operating costs—is critical to implementing a plan that will result in true cost savings. Energy improvement initiatives, when properly executed, can easily yield a 15% reduction in use.

A holistic, enterprise-wide strategy approaches energy as a manageable asset to help offset future energy price increases. This approach views energy as an input to production along with materials and labor. The objective of such a strategy is to maintain optimum energy procurement and utilization throughout the production environment while minimizing energy costs and waste. However, it is impossible to manage what is not measured.

Using meters, sensors, programmable logic controllers (PLC), intelligent motor controllers, and power monitors connected through energy management software tools, manufacturers are able to integrate energy metrics into production operations by capturing and analyzing energy data to make strategic energy decisions. Typically, metering starts with the main, then at each switch gear, and then at each high-value asset.

Software tools allow the correlation of energy use to the cost of production. That, in turns, allows production managers to make informed decisions about energy use. They can schedule production to avoid high-peak rates and employ visualization tools for process, line, or facility reporting. Real-time energy management integrated into overall production management using energy dashboards on the human machine interface (HMI) and desktop, threshold alarms, and other tools provide the ability to make strategic adjustments for optimum production efficiency at the most cost-effective energy levels across the plant.

Software tools allow the correlation of energy use to the cost of production. That, in turns, allows production managers to make informed decisions about energy use.

For instance, in a case study reported by Rockwell Automation, a North American packaging company used plant floor energy consumption data to determine that a piece of equipment was using an excessive amount of energy during the first shift. The company rescheduled production on that piece of equipment to the second shift and saved $66,000 in one year due to a reduction in peak demand charges.

Using the proper controls and techniques allows a facility to save energy and money. The key is to work with qualified personnel, either internal or external, that know the proper systems and requirements of both control systems and the processes that they are to control for optimal performance and efficiency. Often, organizations will hire independent third-party engineering firms that are experienced in both the systems and process, but are also unbiased toward a particular solution as not all facilities are the same.

Paolo Baldisserotto, PE, CEM, is a principal engineer for E4E Solutions, an Atlanta-based energy-engineering firm. He has performed energy audits at more than 200 industrial and commercial facilities, identifying energy and cost savings opportunities in utility systems including chilled water, steam, refrigeration, lighting, HVAC, compressed air, and pumping systems.

Brent W. Stromwall, PE, PMP, is managing partner and vice president of business development at Polytron, Inc., an integration and engineering consulting firm based in Duluth, Ga. He has more than 20 years' experience with foods, beverages, pharmaceutical, and consumer products packaging, process, and material handling systems. Edited for the CFE Media Industrial Energy Management section in April as a Digital Edition Exclusive. Send comments to  

Key concepts:

  1. The manner in which manufacturers approach energy management remains the greatest barrier to maximizing energy efficiency.
  2. Energy performance gains from various one-off energy management projects do not deliver sustained energy performance improvements, particularly if those projects are not continuously monitored and adjusted.
  3. A holistic, enterprise-wide energy management strategy views energy as an input to production along with materials and labor. The goal is to optimize energy use throughout the production environment while minimizing energy costs and waste.

Consider this:

If you're constantly hitting the wall in terms of how much performance improvement you can get from your energy management projects, isn't it time to adopt a different approach?

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