No matter how big or how small your factory is, there are always things that can be done to make it run more efficiently. Whether you’re looking to cut back costs or reduce your energy bill, there are a number of things that can be done to aid in an efficient workplace.
While you may not be able to implement all of the below, they provide a good outline of what you should be checking in your factory to make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible, as well as offering some suggestions for activities you can implement to help reduce costs. Here are 4 ways you can make your factory more energy efficient.
1. Turn off equipment when it’s not being used
This may sound simple but this tip can end up saving you more than you’d think! Making sure you turn off machinery and equipment when it’s not being used can save thousands of dollars a year depending on your business size. Conducting a quick check of your factory at the end of each day to make sure all equipment is off when not in use can result in some pretty significant savings over time.
We know that air compressors can use a lot of energy so it can also help to reduce the operating pressure of your compressors – check for leaks, and turn them off completely if not being used for extended periods (for example weekends and extended holidays). Compressed air systems can account for approximately 10% of total industrial electricity consumption, this can then amount to as much as 40% of the energy bill for some factories.
It’s a common misconception that turning on appliances uses more energy than leaving them running due to the initial surge of energy. This has been disproven with simple things like lighting. As well as switching off your lighting when it’s not in use, it can also be worth looking at the type of bulbs you’re using, and if there’s a more energy efficient option you could be using such as LED bulbs. LED bulbs are very efficient and use up to 85% less electricity than traditional incandescent light bulbs.
2. Add solar panels to your factory roof
With more and more companies looking to use sustainable energy to power their factories and reduce their carbon footprint, technology like solar panels can be worth investing in. Tesla is just one company that has opted to use solar panels as a source of energy. Their ‘Gigafactory’ which is under construction in Nevada USA will be powered entirely by renewable energy sources. Designed to be a net zero energy factory upon completion, the facility will be primarily powered by solar panels.
It’s not just about adding new equipment or technology like solar panels to your factory though, going green requires a proactive team, ready to do what they can when they can to help conserve energy – this includes your employees.
That means educating your employees on the new energy efficient policies and systems you are putting in place. Invite them to come up with some ideas for improving your consumption, and do what you can to listen and put weight behind their suggestions. Chances are, your workers understand what’s being done and what’s necessary. They know full well when something is wasteful, and when something can do with being optimised.
3. Maintain equipment
Another way that you can look to improve your energy efficiency is by regularly checking, cleaning and maintaining equipment. Having equipment operating at peak efficiency will not only increase the longevity of the equipment, but it will also save you money as older equipment that is working too hard will naturally use more energy.
A simple way to make sure your equipment is regularly checked and any necessary maintenance work completed is by scheduling regular shutdown maintenance cycles. These are a great way to make sure all equipment like your air compressors gets the regular monitoring and maintenance it needs so that it’s operating efficiently. Shutdown maintenance also helps to prevent unnecessary breakdown of equipment.
4. Optimise your air compressors
It’s no secret that if used incorrectly, air compressors will not only use a lot of energy but also end up hiking up your energy bill. Air compressors are typically sized to meet peak air demands, which in many cases only represents one or two hours per day, not the entire day of operation in a factory. This means that for the remainder of the day the demand can vary significantly.
A fixed speed air compressor trying to meet this varying demand, will continue to run for long periods on ‘no load’ which means you’ll end up wasting energy simply ‘free wheeling’ and therefore significantly increasing your power bill.
The U.S. alone wastes $3.2 billion annually with inefficient compressed air usage. Manufacturing companies waste approximately 50% of the compressed air produced; up to 30% is from leaks, and 10% is from inappropriate use. To reduce unnecessary waste knowing your exact energy requirements, and the type of air compressor to use will go a long way in reducing inefficient compressed air usage.
A good way to get around this type of inefficiency is by installing a permanent magnet variable speed drive (VSD) compressor, which only produces the air you need at the time, and switches off when not required at all. In many cases, when a PM VSD is combined with a high-efficiency motor, the power savings will be over 40%! The power savings alone are a great incentive to make the switch from a traditional air compressor.
By making a few small changes in your factory such as changing the lighting you use, regularly monitoring equipment and optimising your air compressors, you will start to see a big difference in the amount of energy consumption and the amount you will save on power.
If you’re interested in changing to a VSD compressor to help get your energy saving underway, and to optimise your compressed air efficiency then get in touch with one of the Industrial Air team today.