A structured approach to managing energy
8 June 2006, News release from Energy2000 Limited
Mervyn Chapman, engineering services director, Energy 2000, offers a structured approach to getting the most out of any monitoring and targeting system.
M&T is is an effective tool for identifying where energy is being used on a site, providing ongoing comparisons of energy efficiency. However, we often encounter businesses that have failed to implement M&T successfully, but with the right expertise, have significantly reduced their operational costs.
Through monitoring use and targeting the most energy-intensive areas of a site and equipment, organisations can significantly reduce their short- and long-term operational costs, increase efficiency and reduce the environmental impact.
There are many reasons why organisations use an M&T system, whether from an operational, economic or business point of view. It is applied in different ways across a variety of industry sectors, and it depends on the size, scale and efficiency of your organisation as to what extent M&T will benefit you.
There are a number of factors influencing how to get the best out of M&T which will determine the degree of success. Whilst production companies are highly likely to benefit from M&T, because they use processes involving a large amount of energy consumption, many other sectors can benefit from significant savings if M&T is applied correctly. For example, a larger retailer may use M&T to identify its most energy efficient store, and use the information it finds to reduce consumption across all of its outlets. The crucial factor to the success of M&T is the commitment of senior management. If using in-house expertise, businesses should secure investment in high quality metering and analysis software. Not only will this identify where energy is being used, and offer opportunities for significant cost savings, it can ensure an organisation meets environmental legislation, such as the Climate Change Levy targets and EU Emissions Trading Scheme. M&T can also reduce the impact rising energy costs when used with other cost-saving strategies, such as contract negotiation by an expert or specialist company.
To make the most of M&T, organisations need to make themselves aware of energy use in buildings and processes, and how to design-in low energy measures to reduce consumption. Your in-house expertise must also encompass how to assess energy use and the associated environmental impact. Through statistical process control, organisations can make changes that result in significant savings. The main ingredients of a successful in-house monitoring and targeting system include:
- identifying an M&T champion on site;
- a good level of utility sub-metering;
- collation of data;
- production variable metering;
- establishing designated areas of energy accountability;
- setting targets;
- measuring consumption and related factors;
- the selection and application of a data analysis software system;
- assessment of your consumption against targets and amending targets as improvements occur.
As M&T requires a number of coordinated changes to be made across sites, the process must be planned and managed to ensure you reach the objectives. Accurate data such as when, where, how and why your energy is used can be obtained through site knowledge, measurement and metering. Without accurate information the changes you make are based on estimates, which is a waste of resource.
Accurate data will provide the steer in terms of where you need to deploy investment and where to expect cost savings, without guessing as many businesses do. Organisations must arm themselves with an analysis of site or individual process usage. Overuse in particular areas, or at particular times can then be detected and rectified immediately. You should be certain of the areas where the most energy is consumed on site/s, and where large amounts of energy-intensive activity takes place, such as process energy or compressed air generation.
Additionally, you should assess metering requirements, and whether these are suitable for accurate and / or automatic monitoring of your energy usage and are providing accurate information to you on a regular basis. Are your invoices correct, mathematically accurate and do they relate to estimates or actual readings ?
Automatic monitoring removes the need for manual intervention to obtain and input meter readings. Software will collect this information for you on a regular basis and feed it into your database, allowing you to compare accurate data against the set targets.
Once you have accurate information, it is essential that your analysis of this is based on sound expertise and not guesswork . There are many things about energy management that are only fully understood by experts. Your data needs to be cross-referenced with any variables.
Targets are normally site-specific, and will particularly vary for those involved in production. Targets are also specific to the type of business being operated, and there are varying ways to apply them, depending on the industry sector. However, in sites with a similar set-up (e.g. breweries), they could be very similar.
Generally, targets should be set in either total units produced or tonnage of units produced . Once existing targets, benchmarks and ratios have been measured, these can be compared to actual energy performance levels to ensure that improvements are being carried out to expectations. Targets should be reviewed and reset when energy efficiency measures have been implemented. You should constantly be looking to identify opportunities for improvement once the cause of energy-intensive areas or activities have been found.
To ensure that the site remains at optimum efficiency, and that performance is maintained, there needs to be a system for measuring the effectiveness of your energy efficiency measures.
A measurement system will also ensure that action can be taken if a particular area or individual is not performing. Organisations should also be aware who is responsible for the main energy-consuming equipment and set targets for each piece of equipment, which can then be measured at a later date.
For larger businesses we recommend the use of collated half hourly data from energy suppliers, which can be converted into graphs of energy usage on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Whilst this provides historical data, it should also be supported by collating weekly information and analysis of the data. A monthly report would allow a quick and easy analysis of accurate energy data over designated time periods to monitor usage and identify anomalies.
Carrying out audits and surveys of all site facilities, and identifying possible areas where energy savings are possible, will provide useful information for generating future targets for energy usage, and also in identifing projects for inclusion in an action plan.
For further information please email Energy2000 Limited