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Taking a holistic approach to energy management

08 April 2019

Tony Baldwin looks at the energy management challenges and opportunities that face all food processing companies– from SMEs to global corporates. 

An effective energy management programme can help manufacturers meet tighter legislation limits and gain the important ISO 14001, 18001 and 9001 Standards.  When applied as part of overall business strategy, it can also improve productivity and reduce operational costs.

SMC believes that simple changes can significantly reduce carbon footprint and can future-proof long-term energy and resource planning. Through the use of a combination of site audits and metering systems, to draw up achievable energy saving KPIs for its customers, SMC has identified some common key energy and resource management challenges. 

Environmental challenges: More than ever before, the food processing and packaging industries must be able to adapt quickly to rapidly changing environmental conditions and need to exhibit a greater understanding and awareness of green issues.

Increasingly tight legislation limits mean no business can afford to ignore green issues and the implications for all aspects of their operation – from presence-sensitive lighting in corridors to recycling production waste materials.

Every responsible business has a duty to look at ways to cut costs and usage levels as global energy prices continue to rise.  This means looking at ways to work more efficiently and to consider more unconventional energy saving practices such as waste water recycling and renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

Industry research has shown that around 20% of compressed air usage in a production facility is lost through leakage.  Identifying and combating inefficient energy usage like this is a simple way to tackle waste which many manufacturers are not even aware of.  Closely tied to achieving this type of energy saving is the ability to monitor and improve equipment functionality.  This can be done through metering systems and the connected environment provided by smart manufacturing.

Optimising energy efficiency & resource management: Fierce competition across the manufacturing sector is driving production innovation and a critical part of this is efficient long-term energy management. In response SMC offers a partnership-based approach to customer relationships that takes a holistic view to solving energy management and resource business challenges – not just finding short-term solutions to an immediate issue.

Its Energy Management Solutions Strategy focuses on four core elements of the manufacturing process:

• Production equipment efficiency – identify the pneumatic products and control systems key to optimising the energy and resource input of an operation.

• Energy usage – assess all aspects of energy usage in your manufacturing chain and improve resource deployment through energy management studies and partner seminars.

• Change team thinking – devise and implement routes to optimise new thinking and approaches to energy usage and resource deployment within the management, workforce and sales team

• Embed energy management values – build an understanding of the energy management values of a business to ensure best practice and improved energy management and resource usage across all aspects of an operation and engineering staff training.

One case study – a large UK based food manufacturing and packaging operation – demonstrates how implementing some simple changes following a site audit yielded significant ROIs.

The industrial baker manufactures bagels and other breakfast products across three UK sites. SMC was asked to conduct an energy audit and make recommendations to improve current usage levels and establish a viable Energy Management Strategy. 

Using SMC’s Energy Management Solutions’ matrix, it was possible to identify over a dozen immediate and simple ways to improve energy performance.  Figure 1 provides a snapshot of the key recommendations.
To book a free, no-obligation consultation which includes a site visit and assessment and an outline report and recommendations on your Energy & Resources Management  Solutions Strategy, email tbaldwin@smcpneumatics.co.uk

Tony Baldwin is energy & resource management specialist at SMC UK.


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