A recent survey by E.ON and Manufacturing Management discovered serious knowledge gaps amongst today’s industry leaders when it comes to energy usage. Here, we sit down with Annalisa Bell, strategic account manager at E.ON (pictured), to discuss the ways manufacturers can manage their energy consumption
Manufacturing Management: Why should manufacturers come to E.ON for advice on their energy usage?
Annalisa Bell: The need to maintain a competitive advantage in UK manufacturing has never been more prevalent with the uncertainty of European and global economies. Reducing cost per unit produced is a key measure for all manufacturers and is something we can help with our energy solutions. We take a holistic approach and develop bespoke energy strategies for our customers through smart integration of energy efficiency, machinery and on-site generation to create long term self-sufficiency and cost reduction. For many manufacturers, ensuring they keep the machines running is an important part of their competitive business strategy, and with our storage solutions we can ensure our customers have a resilient supply as well as keeping their costs down.
We work with companies to improve their competitiveness through helping them to achieve sustainability goals, reduce costs, and become more streamlined and resilient. It is about recognising how, where and when energy is consumed, and at what cost, which provides UK manufacturers with opportunities to reduce overall operating costs and even create new revenues.
Carbon – UK manufacturers are facing increasing pressure to become greener, most organisations need to reduce carbon in absolute terms but also in terms of carbon content within the products they sell. Renewable onsite generation is the way forward here with compatible responsible procurement of fuel. At E.ON we have recently made this transition to 100% renewables and are now helping our customers to do this as well. E.ON’s ambition is to be the energy partner of choice within manufacturing so that we can all be engaged in a purpose to create a better, more sustainable world
Digitalisation – UK Manufacturing has an opportunity to make significant progress in digital factories or 4IR. New machinery, robotics and more data increases energy at a time when pressure is high to reduce energy and carbon. We help in two ways, first as above by installing equipment to reduce energy use and produce your own clean lower cost energy. Secondly, through our AI solutions we can help improve productivity which in turn reduces cost and carbon per unit. 4IR, Digital factories and Electric Vehicles increases a factories power use and with a strategy designed by E.ON we are able to consider all short, medium and long term inputs into manufacturers energy and business plans.
MM: How can E.ON help manufacturers implement an on-site energy efficiency strategy?
AB: With our knowledge and expertise within industrial sectors we work with UK manufacturers to build bespoke energy strategies that work for their business. Profitability, sustainability and security of supply are the three key pillars that underpin our energy efficiency strategies.
We would firstly look to understand the production process and identify where and how most of the energy is being consumed and develop strategies to reduce manufacturer’s consumption. Through this process we also identify areas of energy wastage, having the right environment for factories is critical to ensure product wastage is kept to a minimum. We have a dedicated controls solutions team who look at things such as temperature and humidity which goes a long way to reducing waste.
Around 60% of an energy bill today is comprised of taxes and levies, and these are rising year and year. Through choosing E.ON as your energy partner, UK manufacturers have the opportunity to manage these ever-increasing non-commodity prices through generating their own power on site. Not only can this help businesses by dramatically reducing energy costs, but it also has wider benefits as the site can be self-sufficient and not reliant on the grid for their power demand.
When building an energy strategy, it’s important to first consider what energy-efficiency measures can be put in place at the front end, so that when it comes to the larger projects such as on-site generation you’re only delivering the energy that is required to ensure business are maximising potential cost reductions.
It is also important for businesses to be smart and flexible with their energy usage. Through developing a smart energy strategy, UK factories have the opportunity to make huge savings on their energy bill, this can be done by making small changes to when energy is used to avoid significant charges. In addition to avoiding significant costs, through being flexible with their energy usage our customers can also benefit from additional revenue stream through National Grid and Distribution Network Operator schemes. E.ON has over five years of expertise in the flexibility markets which is operated through our 24/7 Virtual Power Plant.
MM: Are companies prioritising cost over other considerations when it comes to choosing an energy supplier, and is this a sensible strategy? Are there other things they should be looking at?
AB: Cost is and always will be one of the main drivers behind customers choosing an energy partner. But it is about more than just cost, businesses must choose an energy partner they can trust and that is going to build the right strategy for their business. All manufacturing plants are different, and it is about finding an energy strategy that works for them.
There is added pressure on UK manufacturers to become greener and a need to reduce their emissions and hit carbon targets. At E.ON we have transitioned fully to renewables and we are helping our customers do that as well. Achieving sustainability targets can help to improve businesses competitive advantage. Consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious and given a cost neutral choice, consumers will always choose the more environmentally friendly product.
As we move away from traditional power stations and see more renewables on the system there will also be more pressure on the grid, which in turn means resilience for manufacturing plants will become even more important.
MM: Is there enough energy awareness in the market today?
AB: Whilst over three quarters of business leaders agree that a robust energy-efficiency strategy on their site will lead to wide benefits across the company, there is still a need to ensure that this is a board-room issue across all energy-intensive manufacturing sites across the UK. Important for businesses to understand the opportunities to become more competitive through having an effective energy strategy.
Case Study: E.ON help Russell Roof Tiles
For leading roof tile manufacturer, Russell Roof Tiles, energy consumption was a major concern. In a demanding climate for UK manufacturing, the company needed to reduce their manufacturing costs and maximise their competitive advantage as a leader in sustainability and responsible sourcing – by improving the efficiency and reliability of their on-site energy generation and management.
To assist with this, the company turned to E.ON’s expertise. E.ON designed, built and installed a 240kW combined heat and power (CHP) system and a new boiler. Combined, the CHP plant and boiler provide Russell Roof Tiles with 100% of their thermal needs and around 70% of their electrical demand. In the first year alone, the company expects to save 18.6% on their energy bills; in financial terms, that equates to around £72,000 in just 12 months. Over the course of the 15-year partnership between E.ON and Russell Roof Tiles, the manufacturer can expect to save over £1.2 million.
For Andrew Hayward, Russell Roof Tiles’ managing director, using E.ON’s expertise has been valuable. “The relationship with E.ON has been seamless all the way through the process,” he says. “And with the expertise they brought to ourselves, being an innovator in the roof tile market, we feel this really helped the business grow and set us up for future growth.”
Annalisa develops sustainable energy strategies for UK businesses within the Manufacturing sector. Annalisa joined E.ON in 2013 and has worked in a number of roles across District Heating, Demand Side Response and Battery Storage. Given Annalisa’s experience across the various roles within E.ON she is well placed to advise E.ONs clients on how to manage energy within their business, and help UK manufacturing businesses remain competitive in an increasingly challenging marketplace.
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