By Mary Burgoon, manager market development, Rockwell Automation
No one can escape volatile, escalating energy prices, and that makes it a priority for manufacturers to find a way to measure and optimize energy use.
However, almost everyone struggles with how to determine what to measure, identify key performance indicators (KPIs), and recognize how to handle the data to improve energy efficiency.
One recent breakthrough in the area of automation involves incorporating energy management into larger control solutions as a way to harmonize and integrate energy management in production processes — particularly from disparate sources and stand-alone solutions.
In its simplest form, this is a two-step process:
You can't manage what you don't know. A comprehensive approach needs to include all energy resources consumed in the production process — WAGES (water, air, gas, electricity, steam). Typically, most operations just measure electrical load at the switchgear — missing out on the large opportunities to reduce energy consumption.
While a plant might meter an entire facility or a specific area, the energy consumed by individual compressors, pumps, motors and machines is often unknown. To gain insight into the energy consumed, plants can collect data using power monitors or through the same automation system that is being used to monitor and control the production process.
Once the data has been collected, interpret the energy data through visualization solutions so you can monitor, understand and most importantly, respond to changes in energy consumption.
According to an ARC survey, the most important energy-related KPIs include:
• Usage of energy per unit of output.
• Energy costs per unit and value of output.
• Current energy consumption/cost vs. historical average and vs. the “golden batch.”
The good news is that just by addressing the “low-hanging fruit” relative to energy management, plants can cut energy consumption by up to 20%. In addition, avoiding peak charges and contractual penalties can save a huge amount of money.
For example, Steelcase, the world's largest office furniture supplier, wanted to reduce energy consumption by 15% and carbon emissions by 25% to support compliance with the ISO 14001 environmental standard. Using a Rockwell Automation Energy Intelligence solution, part of an overall Manufacturing Intelligence approach, Steelcase achieved its efficiency and carbon emissions goals.
You can apply the best practices and lessons learned here to integrate energy management with control and save up to 20% on energy costs by optimizing energy consumption and manufacturing.
Learn about Rockwell Automation Power and Energy Management Solutions.
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