How to Make Manufacturing Businesses More Energy Efficient

17 February 2017

How to Make Manufacturing Businesses More Energy Efficient

Energy use is an important consideration for UK manufacturing businesses. In fact, some regard it as being a business-critical issue that has a significant impact on viability and profitability. It is not surprising, therefore, that most manufacturing businesses take steps to minimise their energy use.

While manufacturing is typically energy intensive, here are some practical things you can look at which will lower energy bills:

  • Improve processes - there is scope for process improvement in many UK manufacturing businesses, i.e., changing processes to cut energy usage without impacting the quality or consistency of products.
  • Install variable speed drives in motors - this will reduce running costs, particularly in fans and pumps.
  • Maintain boilers - this includes getting boilers regularly serviced, as well as ensuring boilers and distribution systems are properly insulated.
  • Maintain motors - this keeps them running efficiently, which is important for operational reasons. In addition, things like belt tightness and lubrication levels have an impact on the amount of energy used.
  • Improve the efficiency of furnaces - furnaces require vast amounts of energy. To reduce this to a minimum, make sure you monitor the performance of your furnace to see if it operates at the same level as others in your industry. Regular maintenance also helps, as does making improvements in the way it is used (i.e., yield, how it’s unloaded, scheduling, etc.).
  • Invest in new equipment - high-efficiency motors, energy saving lightbulbs, and energy efficient refrigeration units are some examples of equipment that can reduce energy usage.
  • Switch equipment off when not in use - this includes motors, lights, process utilities (like compressed air), computers, heating, and more.
  • Reduce the pressure of compressed air - could you reduce the pressure of compressed air without affecting the quality of products produced? If so, you could save seven percent of the energy the compressed air system uses.
  • Make your buildings more energy efficient - many manufacturing businesses focus their energy saving efforts on equipment and processes that use a lot of energy - furnaces, for example. However, you can also save energy in your buildings, for example, your offices. You can do this by things like lowering the temperature by one degree, changing lightbulbs, and using hibernation features on computers, printers, laptops, scanners, and photocopiers.
  • Maintain refrigeration units - refrigeration is another area of manufacturing that uses a lot of energy. You can cut this by making sure door seals are in good condition, and by keeping refrigeration condensers clean.
  • Use less artificial light - you can do this through the installation of skylights, encouraging staff to open the blinds during the day, using timers that automatically switch lights off, and using motion sensors that keep lights off until movement is detected.
  • Run overnight - run your costs to see if it would make better sense to run your facility at off-peak hours, such as overnight. How would that impact your business, and would you save enough money on off-peak business gas and electricity prices to justify the change?

The energy reducing suggestions on this list add up, and can represent a significant cumulative saving on your energy bills.

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