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Flipping the switch on energy costs

16 May 2024

Steve Adams highlights the important link between improving overall equipment effectiveness and mitigating the impact of rising energy costs.

The food and beverage manufacturing sector is facing a difficult challenge – finding itself at the intersection of rising operational costs and the threat of a global food crisis, not to mention low margins in an already challenging operating environment. 

A report from Make UK and Inspired PLC revealed that 92% of manufacturers already consider net zero as a priority for their business and 60% view it as a commercial opportunity. The most important takeaway from the report, however, is that increased energy efficiency is seen as a key approach to achieving net zero and achieving growth – particularly as 60% of manufacturers perceived the rising cost of energy bills as the biggest threat to business.

This is unsurprising when you consider that energy costs have a direct impact on production, distribution, and overall operational expenses. The connection which may not be as obvious, however, is that achieving energy efficiency will not only support with net zero goals but can also lead to substantial cost savings, better performance, longer equipment life, and even saving time and creating jobs.

Powering savings 
Achieving energy efficiency is not possible without having an ability to understand and benchmark current performance – which is why enabling access to live and historical energy data is a key requirement. 

However, it is not just energy data that holds the key to unlocking reduced operational costs and achieving net zero. Companies need to be capturing and tracking data points across entire production lines to identify areas for improvement.

Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) – a measure of how effectively a manufacturing process is performing – lies at the heart of achieving more than just operational efficiency, it could also be the key to mitigating the impact of rising energy costs. 

For example, if a line is running at 50% of manufacturing efficiency, it is not utilising assets sustainably. The impact of this of course, is that the team has to operate the plant 40-50% longer than if it were running more efficiently – resulting in increased energy use and rising operational costs. 

Software solutions can help bolster OEE and by making the connection between energy consumption and OEE, it is possible to get a complete picture of the production process, using data-driven insights to identify areas where performance issues are occurring.  

Operational efficiency
Ultimately, the OEE of a manufacturing process has the potential to unlock manifold improvements. By looking at manufacturing efficiency through a broader lens, it is possible to achieve increased productivity, reduced downtime and reductions in wasted resources such as water, nitrogen, CO2 and even labour – resulting in maximised output and reduced production costs. 

So, whether your motivation for achieving energy efficiency is to reduce costs or achieve net zero – it pays to look at the bigger picture and focus on improving your Overall Equipment Effectiveness.

Steve Adams is CEO at LineView. 

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