Although manufacturing has long been considered an energy-intensive industry, this trend has begun to change. Between 2010-2014, U.S. manufacturing energy consumption is estimated to have increased by 4.7%, according to the Manufacturing Energy Consumption Survey (MECS) released in October 2017.
However, manufacturing real gross output also increased by 9.6% during the same period of time, demonstrating that a shift toward less energy-intensive manufacturing may have contributed toward the decline in manufacturing energy consumption.
This is good news for small and medium-sized manufacturers that always are seeking ways to achieve cost-effective production to help their businesses grow. So how can these manufacturers continue to increase the gap between their gross output while attempting to increasingly rein back on their energy consumption? Here are four smart energy ideas California manufacturers can explore to save on energy:
Smart Manufacturing as a Tool for Efficient Energy Consumption
SMART manufacturing, which stands for Sense, Measure, Analyze, Report, and Train, is the future for small and medium-sized manufacturers (SMM). The technology allows companies to use energy more efficiently and involves the use of real-time data, processes, machines, and technology for human decision-making to improve efficiency and productivity, prevent equipment failure, and optimize energy usage.
The International Data Corporation (IDC) estimates that this approach to manufacturing will generate $371 billion in net global value over the next four years by streamlining design and manufacturing processes and by managing supply chain risks.
By collecting and analyzing data across your organization, you may be able to gain a clearer appreciation of how processes and machines use energy. Sensors and other smart monitoring devices help identify potential machine malfunctions and, in extreme cases, can automatically shut down equipment to prevent further damage. Manufacturers also can rely on predictive analytics to lower repair costs and promote equipment longevity.
The human factor is an important component of manufacturing processes, hence people should be assigned to the most important tasks and leave the repetitive work to advanced robotics and artificial intelligence. Workers’ use of energy, however, need to be monitored and controlled to conserve energy and realize greater efficiency.
Smart Energy Management
Energy waste often is related to operational inefficiencies caused by an inadequate energy management system. The major areas of use of electricity in manufacturing facilities are drives, air compressors, lighting, HVAC and refrigeration, fans, and pumps. Gas usage is dominated by boilers and process heat. Energy management should target these energy users.
A smart energy management system is an ecosystem of connected devices, machines, and factories that provide actionable insights on energy consumption using analytics. Automation systems, industrial sensors, and wireless controls provide real-time data feeds that enable decision makers in the plant to determine how, when, and where to use energy.
Leveraging Smart Energy Devices
The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a good source of smart devices that are useful in manufacturing plants.
- Smart meters allow plant managers access to detailed information on energy use across their factories and other workplaces at any time, enabling them to proactively control energy consumption. They can also view their previous day’s consumption through the utility provider’s website.
- Smart locks provide peace of mind to small- and medium-size business owners by helping them avoid the added cost of hiring security personnel. This protection enables business owners to secure and protect their investment without breaking their wallets.
Smart Energy System as a Regulatory Compliance Mechanism
California manufacturers are required to comply with energy-focused standards. Smart energy management prepares them for regulatory compliance. Non-compliance may mean potential penalties and legal problems.
Some of the regulations include California Title 24, which requires manufacturers to adhere to minimum building energy performance; California AB 1103, which mandates that businesses reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and the Green Building Initiative, State of California Executive Order S-20-04, which specifies requirements for improved energy efficiency and controlled water consumption to reduce the carbon footprint of all new buildings in California.
As a manufacturer in California, you should always be looking for ways to reduce energy consumption as a means of boosting profits. Smart energy technology aims to address your concerns and you don’t have to be a big enterprise to achieve the benefits of embracing smart energy technology.