Posted on 06 August 2014.
For decades now, the manufacturing sector has been aware of the need for more energy-efficient plants and factories. Environmental issues coupled with the increasing demand for energy and finite resources highlights the importance of making energy more productive.
What really is energy efficiency? A simple operational definition provided by the web states that it is “using less energy to provide the same service.” Some believe that energy efficiency is similar to energy conservation; but they are not because the latter suggests minimizing or doing away with a service in order to save electricity. For industries, however, the implementation of energy-efficient practices has been identified as the measure which has the most potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For this reason, an increasing number of manufacturers are adopting ways that make energy work harder; meaning, getting the most output from input. However, applying these methods is not as straightforward as one may think, since the energy use of a specific industrial complex can be a complex web of different systems consisting of various equipment and machineries such as boilers, compressors, chillers, steamers, among others. Nevertheless, making these systems energy-efficient is attainable.
One of the major deterrents of a manufacturing plant going green is the lack of information and knowledge. This can be remedied by the conduct of an energy audit, which will enable manufacturers to better understand the plant’s energy usage. Further, the audit will determine the most suitable areas where energy-efficient measures can be employed as well as how much money can be saved from the implementation of such measures.
Although it is not part of the manufacturing process per se, the lighting fixtures inside a factory can contribute to its eco-friendliness. This can be done by replacing ordinary bulbs with the more energy-efficient models and installing automatic lighting controls. The same can be applied to ventilation and air conditioning units. Aside from lesser power consumption, this can significantly lower costs on electricity.
In a manufacturing plant, the power needed to run electric motors accounts for approximately seventy percent of total power consumption. Hence, using energy-efficient motors will greatly contribute to energy reduction. In a production process, motors are commonly utilized to power pumps that enable the flow of air and fluids. In most cases, these motors run on full power while being operational regardless of the volume of fluid that is circulating within the system. To make the process more energy-efficient, manufacturers now use devices called variable-speed drives that regulate energy flow to the motors, providing them with just enough speed to power fluid circulation.
Aside from having energy-efficient motors running inside a plant, industries can further go green by properly maintaining trucks, vans or any transport equipment being used, to ensure that these vehicles are likewise fuel-efficient. For industries that handle large amounts of cargo, this can also mean regular maintenance of additional equipment like forklifts. Fortunately, there are numerous businesses that can provide manufacturers with various forklift service solutions, such as The Forklift Center found on this site.
There are several other ways by which manufacturing plants can enhance energy-efficiency. Although they might require financial investment, time, effort and changes in the manufacturing process, the returns they provide are worth it, financially and environmentally.