Friday, March 17, 2017

Energy-Saving Tips for Manufacturers

By: Dale Wicker



Manufacturing processes require vast amounts of energy including: heating, cooling, lighting, office equipment and the production line itself. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that energy costs continue to be a major expense for manufacturers.

Yet, when it’s time to reduce expenditures, businesses often will try other cost-cutting measures first, rather than scaling back on their energy consumption. It’s time to alter this thinking—and focus on energy-saving initiatives that will significantly reduce expenses and positively impact your bottom line. Here’s how…

Process Heating

Process heating is required to make most consumer and industrial goods, and it is responsible for more than one third of the energy use within a manufacturing facility. Manufacturers can save energy within this area by:

Assessing heat transfer surfaces
Controlling exhaust gases
Ensuring proper furnace installation
Evaluating air-to-fuel ratios
Installing waste heat recovery systems
Reducing steam demand
Upgrading boilers to the latest energy-efficient models
Utilizing alternative fuels with higher combustion efficiency

Lighting

Since most manufacturing facilities tend to be well-lit, it’s critical that energy-efficient lighting is properly installed. Lighting alternatives include:

Using florescent or LED fixtures
Utilizing daylight as much as possible through skylights and clerestories
Adjusting the levels of light and turning off lights during the slow/off hours

Consumption Periods

Electrical rates can vary based on the time of day energy is consumed. Manufacturers can strategically use this factor to their advantage by adjusting operating hours accordingly. They also can use electricity at optimal operating hours by avoiding “rate peak periods” which usually occur in the afternoon and early evening hours.

Employee Efforts

To make conservation efforts more successful, all employees must be on board with your plan. Emphasize the importance of reducing energy consumption and encourage the following: turning off lights, machines, equipment, etc., when not in use. Getting the staff involved also will enable them to come up with their own strategies for reducing energy costs, fostering the idea of continuous improvement throughout a manufacturing facility.

By following these tips and focusing on the areas mentioned above, manufacturers can see significant savings on their next bills!


Meet Our Expert

Dale Wicker
Quality Program Manager


Dale Wicker is a member of The Center's Quality Team. He manages and delivers training and assistance to organizations in the areas of quality improvements and environmental management systems. Some of his projects involve support with the implementation of a Quality Management System including: ISO 9001, ISO/TS 16949, AS 9100 and ISO 14001. Dale also conducts training and provides consulting on the supporting tools of Quality Systems. To read Dale’s full bio, visit: www.the-center.org.






Since 1991, the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center has assisted Michigan’s small and medium-sized businesses to successfully compete and grow. Through personalized services designed to meet the needs of clients, we develop more effective business leaders, drive product and process innovation, promote company-wide operational excellence and foster creative strategies for business growth and greater profitability. Find us at www.the-center.org.

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