How to turn bosses into tree huggers: Show them the profits

Industrial automation technologies are doing the same for energy management as they did for production processes: Making already good strategies better, with faster and smoother operations.

04/17/2013


A basic tenet of human nature is responding favorably to positive reinforcement. In fact, most humans develop and sustain good habits because they like the results such behavior yields.

Corporations, which after all are just collections of people, exhibit similar behavioral patterns. The difference is that corporations are less likely than individuals to seek emotional rewards for behaving a certain way.

No, this is not an essay about the evils of faceless, soulless Big Business. The truth is businesses—in order to serve the greater good of providing valuable goods and services and keeping workers employed—must behave in ways that are most likely to produce a financial reward, i.e., a profit.

Until recently, few business people thought conserving energy was a particularly profitable behavior. To a large extent, energy was an afterthought. Though it was a variable expense, it never was enough to put a crimp in business operations.

Suddenly, however—thanks to a myriad of macroeconomic factors—energy has become a hot, and increasingly expensive, commodity. And that has corporations changing their behavior vis-à-vis energy. They now are more inclined to look for ways to save energy, because now that behavior can indeed bring a financial reward.

Manufacturers should be at the forefront of this behavioral shift, because they are among the heaviest corporate energy users. Various energy industry analysts estimate that industrial companies account for 30% to 50% of worldwide energy consumption. When you think about how much various forms of energy—electricity, oil, gas— cost today, and how much those costs can be expected to rise in the future—it makes sense that developing strategies for energy-efficient manufacturing could yield huge financial rewards.

This latest Industrial Energy Management supplement from CFE Media offers solid examples of how industrial companies can attack energy costs, and thus start reaping a share of those potential financial rewards.

If you’re a regular reader of CFE publications, you may already have guessed that industrial automation technology plays a central role in these energy-saving strategies. 

That’s because this technology is doing the same thing for energy management that it did for production processes: making already good strategies even better by making them operate faster and smoother.

Each article in this supplement is an eloquent statement of that case. The following articles, edited to fit onto print pages, are linked to full-length versions below, with many photos, and additional links for more information:

 

The real job of an industrial energy management system - An energy management system should gather information on any form of energy consumption and consider all factors that impact machine operating efficiency.

 

Attacking energy costs - Automated control solutions offer the best approach for sustained savings from energy-management programs.

 

Regenerative power units save energy - Spindle drives, decanter centrifuges, hoists, cranes, elevators, and torque dynamometer test rigs can save energy from frequent run and stop, deceleration with high inertia load, and overhauling torque by using a regenerative power unit. One application saves 54% of the power used, $1017 per year.

 

Solar power plant drives environmentally friendly business success - Supervisory control system provides real-time monitoring of massive solar network, cutting energy costs—and reducing emissions—at intermodal transit facility in Bologna, Italy.  

 

Why manufacturing companies are not profiting from energy efficiency - Reliance on the wrong metrics to assess value dooms many energy projects to premature death.

 

More efficient pumps use VFDs, consolidate logic - Application: Existing drives were not accurate enough to provide desired results and were not offered with conduit fittings. The solution provided was cost effective and more energy efficient than prior drives used and eliminated the PLC and control panel for logic.

 

Remember, when it comes to changing corporate behavior, the best approach is offering financial rewards. This supplement should show you how to do that.

- Sidney Hill, Jr., is a CFE Media Contributing Content Specialist, sidhilljr@gmail.com.

This article is part of the April 2013 CFE Media supplement, Industrial Energy Management.



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