By Donna L. Zobel
July 16, 2009
Saving energy and reducing water and waste expenses should be so simple that it becomes part of a manufacturer’s daily routine.
Taking the first step to improve industrial operations is difficult and requires a practical plan that all employees should be part of. You can begin by identifying trends in use and cost of such expenses as water, utility, waste removal bills, transportation costs and office supply expenses. Analyzing these metrics can be the first step in saving money.
The next step is to conduct a plant-wide efficiency assessment, with all employees looking at ways to save resources. Be on the lookout for wasteful processes and determine how to address the problem. Leaking toilets, poorly sealed window and doors, poorly maintained machinery or ventilation systems, excess waste, all of these areas are opportunities for improvement and require little or no investment.
Projects that improve efficiency help businesses save significant amounts of money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings in this country account for about half of the carbon dioxide emissions. Therefore it is advantageous to retrofit buildings for energy efficiency before adding renewable technologies like solar and wind power.
There are five steps that will produce immediate results. I’ll provide some details about increasing energy efficiency, which is the first and most important step.
Energy efficiency actions offer one of the best opportunities to reduce costs in manufacturing facilities, including improvements in both manufacturing equipment and building systems. Building systems such as process heating, motors and pumps, compressed air and steam can account for a large part of the energy used in manufacturing processes.
HVAC and lighting equipment are also significant energy users so concentrating your building equipment and system upgrades in these areas can really pay off. The steps you can take now include:
-¢ Install high efficiency lamps
-¢ Eliminate leaks in inert gas and compressed air lines and valves
-¢ Improve electrical distribution by adding power factor correction capacitors to electric motors
-¢ Replace broken electric motors with high-efficiency motors
-¢ Install compressor air intakes in the coolest locations
-¢ Reduce the pressure of compressed air to the minimum required
-¢ Reduce HVAC output on weekends, holidays, and nights
To find out more tips, visit The Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) website at www.eere.energy.gov/industry.
The four other steps to take can include increasing water efficiency, improving waste management, sourcing locally to reduce transportation impacts and financing energy efficient upgrades.
Some Web sites you could visit to learn more include the California Department of Water Resources at www.owue.water.ca.gov/docs/water_efficiency_guide.pdf, the EPA at www.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/industrial/guide/index.htm, and state incentives for energy efficiency at www.dsireusa.org.
You can positively impact your bottom-line and improve company image by implementing an energy efficiency and waste reduction plan.
Donna Zobel is president of Myron Zucker, Inc. She can be contacted at [email protected].