Getting started with energy reduction strategies

There are several holistic solutions where energy reduction can be found in manufacturing processes and improve operations.

By Eryn Devola October 6, 2022
Courtesy: Brett Sayles

Energy Reduction Insights

  • For manufacturers to become more climate-friendly with their processes, they must improve their energy reduction strategies as to lower CO2 emissions.
  • Artificial intelligence and predictive maintenance can help in this situation by energy reduction.

Today, the industrial manufacturing sector is one of the main sources of CO2 emissions – 20% of global CO2 emissions come from industry. Meanwhile, one-third of the global energy is consumed by the industrial sector. For this reason many manufacturers are currently feeling the pressure to produce in a more climate-friendly manner.

However, a holistic and effective sustainability management can only work if companies consistently play the digital card which enables them to save waste, energy and costs in their production plants. For example, artificial intelligence enables predictive maintenance of plants which, in turn, results in energy reduction and less waste. In addition, unforeseen shutdowns can be avoided using smart measurement sensors. Compressed air consumption in plants can be greatly reduced with the help of smart positioners.

Furthermore, companies that rely on a comprehensive digital twin of their production can massively improve energy reduction and heat consumption as well as CO2 emissions site-wide.

The list goes on, but where should engineers consider taking the first steps to reduce energy consumption? Generally, there are several basic measures every manufacturer can start with immediately.

Efficient drive systems can make a big difference. Energy efficient production should begin with the drive systems used in industrial plants, where electric motors account for almost 70% of the electricity demand. Not only that, but the energy costs of an electric drive account for up to 97% of the total life cycle costs. Electric drive systems therefore offer enormous potential for savings.

However, measures focusing on the motor alone will not be enough to achieve the Europe-wide target of reducing CO2 emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared with 1990. This will require a holistic system approach – energy savings of up to 60% can be achieved for the entire drivetrain by combining measures such as increasing the efficiency of the motor itself, variable-speed operation using frequency converters and optimization through integrated digital solutions. Another component for increasing energy efficiency in the overall system is the use of energy storage systems. The key to achieving higher drive efficiency is to optimize the overall system using a holistic digital strategy.

Holistic solutions

There is a need for holistic energy management solutions. Industry needs to keep a constant eye on energy consumption across operations to understand how much is being used when and for what purpose. This requires enterprise-wide energy management solutions – ranging from field level energy data recording right through to company-wide energy analysis – to identify major energy consumers and take suitable measures. This will allow companies to avoid energy peaks, for example.

An automated load management system can automatically shut down systems and make them available again. Forecasting the expected load profile enables users to negotiate an optimized contract with the energy supply company and avoids penalties for exceeding the energy requirement. Transparent energy consumption helps make personnel more aware of energy efficiency within the company, and energy efficiency measures and targets such as the annual increase in energy efficiency can be tracked and verified.

Energy-efficient production means more than just reducing energy consumption, CO2 emissions or costs – it also involves integrating energy and production data to analyze and optimize not only energy consumption but also the energy productivity of machines, plants and processes. Together, these measures can provide an opportunity to achieve all-round improvements in process productivity and efficiency.

Author Bio: Eryn Devola is vice president of sustainability at Siemens Digital Industries.