Consumption management: Schneider Electric generates huge savings by monitoring energy use
Looking for a fast and easy way of dropping $580,000 in annual operating costs? Take a look at the lighting in all of your facilities.
Schneider Electric , the well-known supplier of electrical distribution and automation and control solutions, replaced roughly 7,000 lighting fixtures in 21 U.S.-based facilities and instantly found itself spending $580,000 less a year on electricity bills. It also picked up $196,000 in federal tax benefits. And that was just the beginning.
In total, Schneider Electric has saved $3,739,921 over the past three years by taking a proactive approach to managing energy consumption.
“We are a major proponent of the idea that energy is a manageable investment, and that you can take actions to reduce costs associated with energy consumption,” says Cassandra Quaintance, CEM, energy market segment for Schneider Electric.
The CEM after Cassandra Quaintance’s names stands for certified energy manager, and she has put that expertise to use in helping Schneider execute the program it calls Schneider Electric Energy Actions.
Quaintance says Schneider started this program because it realized that, as a manufacturing company, energy represents a large portion of its operating costs. It didn’t hurt that the program
“It just so happens that a lot of the products we make can reduce consumption,” Quaintance says. “So when we started Schneider Electric Energy Actions, many of the actions we took involved the use of our own products and services.”
Case in point: Those 7,000 new lighting fixtures were supplied by the Juno Lighting Group , a Schneider Electric company.
“The new [lighting] devices are more efficient; they are designed to emit a higher quality of light,” Quaintance says. “That means you can install fewer of them. It also created a brighter environment for employees to work in, and that can lead to things like lower reject rates for products.”
The lighting retrofit was so successful that production workers in areas that were not among the first to receive the new lights started asking plant operations managers when their new lights would be arriving. “That had never happened before with any facility improvement program,” Quaintance says.
Obviously, Schneider replicated that success in other areas to amass that total of more than $3.7 million in savings over three years. And Quaintance attributes that to the company’s methodical approach.
To start, Schneider designated its energy consumption figures from 2004 as the baseline for measuring usage reduction and cost savings. It then set a goal of reducing consumption by 10 percent per production site employee by the end of 2008—a metric that already has been exceeded.
After setting goals, Schneider used a formal methodology for initiating energy saving projects. “It started with looking at the basics: simple things like when you’re replacing devices or adding devices, purchase low-consumption ones—and looking at things like insulation, power quality, and power reliability,” Quaintance says. “Those are small things that are easy to do and sometimes have an instant return-on-investment.”
The second part of the methodology was ensuring ways of measuring energy consumption, not just by facility but also by each process within a facility. “We did that by installing PowerLogic meters—another one of our products—in all of our facilities,” Quaintance says.
The third step was automating processes, which included installation zone-based lighting controls and occupancy sensors—all of which came from Schneider business units.
Finally, Schneider called on an in-house consulting group that offers a service to industrial manufacturers known as Total Energy Control. “This group looks at energy procurement as well as demand-side energy consumption,” Quaintance explains. “They look at things like natural gas contracts and determine whether you might be able to get a better price. They also do energy audits and suggest projects for reducing consumption.”
That list of projects comes with a projected return-on-investment for each one, and recommendations for which should be implemented first.
Having achieved its initial energy consumption goals, Schneider has embarked on what Quaintance says should be an essential element of any energy management program: the “monitor and improve” stage. This is important to keep cutting consumption—and saving money—as business processes change over time.
Schneider is managing this phase by installing another of its own products: the ION EEM (Enterprise Energy Management) software system. “This system monitors all utilities—water, air, gas, electricity, and steam—at all of our facilities,” Quaintance says. “Because we are installing it at all 21 facilities, we can benchmark and compare performance between facilities. We can easily measure and verify our savings. We don’t have to gather utility data from all facilities. Anyone with access to the system—including the CEO—can log into this energy dashboard and see how we are performing at each facility.”