Understanding & Managing Manufacturing Electrical Energy Consumption

August 2, 2013

What power consumption data do you need – and where is it?

The reasons for wanting to understand electrical consumption and costs are fairly common amongst manufacturers (e.g. allocating actual electrical costs to output by SKU, managing peak demand charges, etc.).  But most manufacturers quickly discover that their plants do not have the technology in place to capture all of the required power consumption data to support a manufacturing information system that will provide them with reports containing the granularity that allows them to make meaningful decisions in a timely manner.

Clearly defining your goals for electrical consumption and costs is certainly a first step towards enabling yourself to understand (and affect) your usage. Developing a roadmap for equipping your internal power infrastructure is the next step, so that capturing electrical consumption by process or production line is possible.

Understanding your manufacturing electrical energy consumption and usage is not complex, but requires data collection (CT’s) at the necessary points in your plant’s power distribution infrastructure. The quantity and location of those points will be defined by the granularity of information that you desire in reports. And as we all know – you cannot control what you cannot measure.

For a manufacturing IT solution provider to assist you in locating all of the necessary points for CT’s in your plant power distribution grid, it is valuable to know material flow by SKU through the plant, in addition to your plant power layout. The ability to include actual energy costs in a Cost per Unit (CPU) is feasible when the right technology is deployed.

How do you create actionable information from the raw manufacturing data?

Enabling your plant personnel with actionable information is the goal. Actions that manufacturers want to take can often include:

  • Allocating costs to output
  • Minimizing peak demand charges
  • Applying technology to applications to reduce energy consumption

Allocating Costs to Output

With CT’s in the correct locations, you can begin to put boundaries around the electrical consumption that was associated with a production run of a SKU. Bringing that data to a tool that enables you to assign the consumption to the corresponding production allows you to allocate electrical costs.

Minimizing Peak Manufacturing Energy Demand

Minimizing your peak demand charges requires identifying what is contributing to the peaks, and determining when either a procedural or technological solution can reduce the peaks. Often it is a combination of both, with the appropriate training to the personnel that can affect improvement. This is one of the easier areas to target. It is also one of the easier areas to miss.  Employee training on both the HOW and the WHY is critical.

Applying technology to applications to reduce energy consumption

With an estimating 65% of industrial electrical consumption being used by motors, and a large percentage of that being used for pumps and fans, this is a key area of interest. In addition to applying variable frequency drives for basic flow control (instead of recirculation loops or dampeners), there are tools that enable you to optimize (real time) the settings of your pumping systems, like the DoE PSAT Tool and your air handling system, like the DoE FSAT Tool.

In future blogs, we will discuss even more ways to manage your manufacturing energy consumption and costs including:

  • Demand control
  • Demand response
  • Dynamic pricing

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