Reducing energy waste in manufacturing and improving production line efficiency is essential if manufacturers are to comply with mandatory greenhouse gas emissions regulations and EU targets - and it’ll also help lower energy bills.
Here are 10 ways that energy and facilities managers can improve the efficiency of their production line.
1. Optimise the use of refrigeration and chilling
Refrigeration and chilling can account for up to 50% of a site’s energy costs. To reduce this there are several steps energy managers can take:
- Prevent overcooling to minimise energy costs and improve efficiency.
- Maintain systems and pipework - ensure they are not blocked, dirty or leaking.
- Upgrade or replace inefficient equipment.
- Switch off lighting in refrigeration areas when not in use.
- Keep refrigeration doors closed and prevent cool air from escaping.
2. Regularly maintain boilers and heating distribution systems
Ensure burners are working efficiently, or replace them. Poorly operating boilers add 30% to heating costs. Another simple trick is to switch off burners when not required, or go further and install automatic controls. Investing in upgrades like this will improve efficiency in the production line. Another useful upgrade is to fit heat recovery systems to boilers (especially gas), e.g. reclaim heat energy for use in process preheating. Finally, facilities managers should de-steam non-critical systems and replace with less expensive hot water systems.
3. Ensure pipework is well insulated
Refrigeration, heating and steam systems are all fed by pipework. It’s important the insulation of these should be in good condition. In addition, pipework should take the shortest route to minimise potential energy losses.
4. Operate costly compressed air systems efficiently
Even idling air compressors can still use 40% of their full load, so it is worth switching these off when not in use, and reducing the system pressure wherever possible. Carrying out regular maintenance will also help efficiency.
5. Improve lighting systems
LED lighting can save up to 75% over older lighting technologies while fitting motion sensors can help reduce energy usage by 30%.
6. Correctly size motors and drives for their application
Choosing the right motors and drives can help to reduce running costs. Other ways to do this include switching off motors when not in use and fitting auto sensors to control operation. Investing in higher efficiency motors and fitting variable speed drives to pumps and fans are two further ways of reducing energy.
7. Initiating water saving measures
Ensuring water systems are well maintained is a basic way to save water. Recycling process water and fitting self-closing taps require more investment but save money in the long run.
8. Use process measurement and control
Effectively controlling processes can cut energy costs by up to 10%. This involves ensuring process equipment is utilised and controlled efficiently, and regularly calibrating equipment.
9. Integrate energy management systems
Fit sensors to electrical equipment to monitor system efficiencies and determine where further energy savings can be made. Another simple way of saving energy is to simply turn off equipment when not in use, i.e. at night and on weekends.
10. Consider Combined Heat and Power (CHP)
Installing CHP units can help to achieve energy cost savings of up to 40% and reductions in CO2 emissions of up to 30%. The units can be installed as a replacement for inefficient boilers or alongside existing boilers. They generate efficient electricity and heat energy from a single on-site process.