Industrial operations require massive amounts of energy, making energy expenses a significant part of operating costs. While no one likes unmanageable energy bills, this focused expense creates an excellent opportunity to save money and bring budget stability. Here are some steps you can take to reduce energy consumption and costs for your industrial operations:
Conduct a comprehensive energy audit
Making meaningful changes to a problem you don’t understand is almost impossible. If you don’t know where and how your company uses energy, you don’t know how to find waste, redundancy, inefficiencies, or oversights. A thorough review by a commercial energy audit company will evaluate everything from your building’s specs to the machines that draw the most power. Once the audit team’s experts have assessed your use, they will provide a list of recommendations and data that offers insight into your energy use.
Armed with that information, you can look at the processes and equipment that consume the most energy. That insight can help you reduce overall energy consumption. You may learn that you have equipment drawing more power than expected. It may be time to service the machine or replace it with a more energy-efficient model. If the audit shows your use is high during peak-demand hours when your contract has higher time-of-use rates, you can investigate switching those processes to lower-demand times.
A comprehensive energy audit arms you with the information you need to reduce energy consumption and costs.
Establish an energy management team
An energy management team is critical to any business’s efforts to control energy use and costs. For heavy industry, where energy expenses constitute a large part of overall expenses, having a team tasked with managing energy use is even more vital.
Your team should have at least one representative from each department. Your administrative department will have different needs and insights than your engineers or labourers. Ensure they are all represented during conversations about energy so they can speak to their needs and present ideas for conservation or improved efficiency.
Together, the team members can create a plan for continued energy use monitoring and implementing energy-saving strategies. You can even incentivize your energy management team members with incentives or bonuses for meeting and exceeding targets for savings in consumption or expenses.
Manage your machines
In heavy industry, your machinery uses the bulk of your electricity. That means it is the first place to look when trying to reduce consumption and costs. We already discussed moving energy-intensive processes to less expensive times. That’s a great place to start. You can also look for ways to group operations or optimize production when your machinery runs. That can decrease lag time when your equipment is powered up but not efficiently doing its job or sitting idle and pulling power.
There may also be updated technology in newer equipment that does the same job faster and requires less energy. Your energy audit can help you determine the break-even point for updating to more efficient equipment. Factoring in the machines’ current age and condition and how much expected useful life remains will also be part of considerations on updating or upgrading.
Finally, ensure all your equipment is maintained correctly. Effective and timely maintenance allows your machinery to operate more efficiently, reducing waste and overall consumption. Check the manufacturer specifications on each piece of equipment to determine how often it should be serviced. Use that information to create an ongoing maintenance schedule that will prevent equipment from going too long without proper inspection and servicing.
Generate energy in-house
Because you operate a heavy industry business, you are used to owning and overseeing equipment. Consider adding an additional type of equipment to your business: an energy-generation system. Wind, solar, hydroelectric, or geothermal production can significantly impact energy consumption costs. While solar panels alone won’t make you use less electricity, they can certainly allow you to buy less energy.
For energy-intensive businesses, there may be local or federal incentives that help offset the costs of purchasing your energy-generation system. These incentives can bring you closer to the break-even point–when you’ve saved as much in electricity costs as you spent on your system. With the price of energy rising, the savings you see from generating power in-house will only increase over time, making on-site energy generation an idea well worth considering for heavy industry companies.
Don’t overlook your lighting and thermostat
With a building full of energy-intensive heavy equipment, machinery is naturally the focus of power consumption efforts. However, this narrow view may cause you to overlook other sources of savings.
When most people look for ways to save energy at home, they focus first on the lights and the temperature control. Those same savings opportunities exist in heavy industry. Switch to more efficient LED bulbs, remind staff to turn off lights in unused areas, and adjust temperature settings so you aren’t paying for more heating or cooling than necessary.
Once you’ve addressed your heavy equipment, think about ways to save energy in other aspects of your operations. Many strategies you would implement in your home will also work in your offices, warehouses, and other company spaces.
Bring in an energy consulting firm
With so much of your budget going toward energy, bringing in expert help to reduce costs makes sense. Energy consulting firms can work with you on every step of the process to reduce consumption and costs. They can perform an energy audit, work with you on sourcing your in-house generation, suggest ways to increase efficiency, and review your energy procurement contract to see if there is a different plan or provider that would be a better fit for your company’s usage patterns and needs.
Heavy industry energy efficiency is critical for reducing costs and making operations more sustainable. The steps we’ve covered can help you feel great about your operating expenses and your environmental responsibility.
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