How to Make Your Industrial Facility More Energy Efficient
Posted Mar 14, 2022 by Dave Scaturro
There is no doubt that energy efficiency is on the minds of almost everyone. With growing concerns over global warming and limits in our planet’s resources, those who manage industrial facilities are seeking ways to reduce energy expenditure.
Industrial energy use is responsible for nearly 30% of both energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. The Department of Energy estimates that plant systems use about 80% of all industrial energy, yet manufacturers of all sizes have the ability to reduce by 20% if they make energy usage changes to motors and pumps, compressed air systems, steam generation and process heating. Here are 4 strategies that operations managers could implement to make inroads on their efforts to save on energy and usage costs.
1. Turn Equipment Off or Down When Not in Use
Little changes can have a significant cumulative effect in energy conservation. Turning equipment off or turning it down is a great short-term change with long-term effects. This includes office equipment like computers, printers, lights, heaters, and motors.
If a piece of equipment can’t be turned off, adjusting the settings to low when a facility is not in full operation can make a big difference. Performing regular maintenance and cleaning of equipment, such as fans, air compressors, boilers, motors, and condenser coils, can also cut down on energy costs.
2. Process Heating
A great place to start for making long-term changes is identifying the areas with the most energy waste. Proper maintenance and cleaning of your process heating will make a difference, along with the installation of furnace pressure controllers to minimize cool air getting into the system, and of lower flammable limit (LFL) monitoring equipment to regulate the ventilation rates. This helps keep safe ventilation ratios while conserving energy.
Motors account for nearly 70% of energy usage in industrial buildings, so attention should be made here if you want to implement energy efficient methods to your facility’s operations. Instead of using a motor based on the maximum expected load, choose an appropriately sized motor based on the load duration curve (LDC). You can also add capacitors to improve input power and decrease voltage imbalances.
When getting rid of old equipment, replace it with high-efficiency motors to decrease energy use and cost. Another strategy is to install adjustable speed drives to adapt to load changes, which will reduce energy waste. These changes will help cut your energy use and cost.
4. Non-Intrusive Facility Upgrades
Upgrading lighting, heating, and cooling fixtures is an excellent opportunity to increase energy efficiency with no down time for your industrial building. By choosing cost-effective efforts, such as upgrading energy efficient plant lighting, switching to LED signage, installing LED parking lot lighting, and incorporating lighting controls, an operations manager can reduce energy consumption for its facility.
Another cost-effective strategy that doesn’t interfere with day-to-day operations is to upgrade an HVAC system. By minimizing air infiltration, installing large ceiling fans to improve air circulation, incorporating radiant heaters, and adding reflective roof coatings you will see a decrease in both energy usage and cost.
Of course, making all of these changes can significantly help your industrial building reduce energy expenditure, enacting just a few at first can help you start cutting down on usage and costs. By making sure your equipment is properly maintained, cleaned, turned off or turned down when not in use, and installing upgrades such as reflective roof coatings, you’ll quickly begin to see evidence of waste and energy cost reductions for your industrial building.