Create a small, but powerful energy conservation policy

Which sounds worse to you: That gasoline prices are headed past $3 a gallon, or that gasoline prices have gone up 100% since last summer? Not much of a choice there, is it? A year ago in our cover story on energy, we pointed to the sharp rise in fuel prices – in particular that gasoline had just gone past $2 a gallon.

05/01/2006


Which sounds worse to you: That gasoline prices are headed past $3 a gallon, or that gasoline prices have gone up 100% since last summer? Not much of a choice there, is it?

A year ago in our cover story on energy, we pointed to the sharp rise in fuel prices %%MDASSML%% in particular that gasoline had just gone past $2 a gallon. Ah, the good old days.

Now as fuel prices continue to shoot up, the higher prices threaten to further cut into operating costs, revenue growth and profits %%MDASSML%% all at a time when the economy in general and manufacturing in particular is finding some solid footing.

Now, it is a more sober, thoughtful world that attacks the energy issue. While the current pain is real, maybe being more thoughtful about energy is not such a bad thing. It is going to take thoughtful people and purposeful action to extract us from our misuse of energy.

Change is evolutionary. It starts in small ways and grows. Yet the problem is so large, it seems overwhelming. How do we solve the energy crisis in manufacturing?

Simply, we don’t. YOU solve it at your plant, on your shop floor, in your organization. When PLANT ENGINEERING wrote about the issue of energy management a year ago, we offered solutions that every manufacturer could implement right away to address the issue. A few are worth repeating today:

  • Do an energy audit: You need benchmark standards for every aspect of a plant’s successful operation. You need one for energy consumption as well. If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. Simply put, this is where any energy management process must begin.

  • Manage your indoor environment: Find ways to move air, to cool machines, to effectively light workspaces that both enhance the work environment and don’t suck up energy. Check with your local supplier. He’s got LOTS of new ideas.

  • Manage travel and transportation: How do you get materials from Point A to Point B, and what is the cost of doing that? If you don’t know how much energy you consume in transportation %%MDASSML%% both inside your facility as well as to your customers — you can’t know how much your costs will rise.

  • Don’t forget the “other” costs: Do a good job on electricity and petroleum and forget about energy efficiencies in water and compressed air, and you’ve only tackled half the problem. Looking for cost savings in every corner of your operation is well worth the effort.

  • Ask your employees. After the energy audit, this may be the most important thing you can do %%MDASSML%% and probably, it’s the most overlooked. The people who know the most about what is wasted in manufacturing are the people who do the manufacturing. They have a lot of answers. The trouble is, very often we forget to ask them the questions.

    • The important item, again this year, is to begin someplace. Implement your own policy, create your own energy czar, and beat the rush of higher energy prices this summer.



Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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