The real job of an industrial energy management system
Industrial users have been looking at ways to operate more efficiently for some time now. For many, the focus on efficiency has been primarily oriented toward ways to streamline their overall work flow and operations process. However, due to the rising cost of energy and the need to further reduce operating costs, users are now beginning to focus on how efficiently they are using energy. Globally, industrial users account for approximately 27% of total energy consumption. Omitting energy used by the electrical power sector and electricity related losses, the industrial sector accounted for approximately 52% of total energy consumption in 2008. See Figure 1.
While industrial users cannot control the energy market directly, they can manage how efficiently they use energy. Energy management systems are a very effective way for users to understand their energy consumption and the associated costs. Armed with this information, a user can then make the necessary decisions to reduce energy consumption without impacting his ability to meet production goals.
New standards such as ISO 50001 can help users understand their own requirements for an energy management system and provide guidance through the use of the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) continuous-improvement structure, ensuring the system meets the user’s energy goals. See Figure 2.
What to gather, how to decide
An energy management system should be able to gather information surrounding any form of energy consumption, be it electric, liquid fuels, natural gas, oil, etc. (refer to Figure 3). In addition to collecting consumption data, information regarding emissions, emission control systems, and other factors that may affect machine operating efficiency (such as vibration) should be considered as these may have a significant cost impact as well.
The final decision of what needs to be included is largely dependent on the user’s goals, which is why the planning phase of the PDCA structure is so important. Once in place, a baseline of energy usage can be established, measures can be put in place to manage usage and costs, and measures taken to reduce emissions can be evaluated for their impact on operations.
Finally, the energy management system can be used to document savings from an internal standpoint and for external purposes such as credits issued as a result of reduced emissions or energy consumption.
Corey B. Morton is solutions architect, B&R Industrial Automation Corp. For more information, visit www.br-automation.com
This article is part of the April 2013 CFE Media supplement, Industrial Energy Management. See other articles linked below.