Today, many plant managers operating in industrial companies, which account for 33 percent of total energy consumption in the United States, are somewhat anxious about having to follow programs like the one developed by the Department of Energy ( DOE).
The US Best Plants Initiative requires corporate commitments to reduce the intensity of energy use in all of its operations by up to 25 percent, this over a ten-year period.
While there is strong interest in this and other energy reduction initiatives globally, the goals may seem daunting, especially when much of the operating energy consumption of many companies is destined for immediate production compliance or maintenance. Critical processes.
Still, more than 1,800 plants in the United States, including those run by leading manufacturers such as 3M, Volvo North America, and Owens Corning, have already made substantial progress on these goals.
Despite the fact that these firms are global benchmarks, the real answer lies beyond what companies do in their day-to-day processes.
Many successful companies use ISO 50001, an international standard for building effective management systems that can be leveraged by organizations large and small alike, to achieve energy management goals.
Designed to create a framework for all organizations to achieve continuous improvement in energy performance, ISO 50001 is similar to other popular management systems such as ISO 9001 for quality management, and ISO 14001 for environmental management.
In the US, whether it is a small or large company, you don’t have to go as far as obtaining the 3rd certification and the benefits of establishing a successful energy management program.
Beyond certification, it is important to know that an optimal energy management program often results in lower costs, sustained long-term savings, improved operational effectiveness, and better organization among teams within the company.
Here are five simple steps to help those looking to establish a foundation for sustained energy management success:
Let’s build the team and get approval from above
Strategic energy management begins with an effective team, and that group of people requires a committed, full-time leader.
An effective energy team needs to be led by someone who has the ability to influence operational decisions, and who can also gain executive or senior management approval to support the program.
To be effective, the energy team leader must have a diverse group of members under his command, since the responsibilities he will have in front of him range from data analysis to project management, as well as communication of energy goals to employees.
Let’s get the data it takes to measure and track success
An effective energy management program, like most business decisions today, requires the right data.
We recommend starting with the utility bill. To understand trends in energy use at the plant level.
More detailed information, such as real-time, production and meteorological energy data, helps us understand the entire energy situation by identifying the key drivers of your energy expenditure.
Of course, collect, access and present this data can be an arduous task, so we recommend software Energy Intelligence (Energy Intelligence Software, EIS) for keeping it all together. Remember that what matters is the quality of the data, not the quantity of it.
Let’s set goals that are relevant to the business
Once all the data is obtained, what should we do with it? Be sure to review the facility’s existing data to identify key energy uses (ISO calls them “Significant Uses of Energy or SEU) and the metrics that will be used to measure success.
Let’s choose metrics that are relevant to the business; for example, if operating costs are already tracked per unit shipped, consider incorporating units shipped as part of energy metrics.
Let’s set goals for energy management in the organization using those metrics, but always be realistic: success doesn’t always mean “25 percent energy savings.” More modest goals can also be set, such as one percent of incremental energy performance improvements under ISO 50001.
What matters is that the metrics and their targets are supported, that we can track the correct data to measure performance, and that the targets are consistent with the main drivers of energy performance.
Let’s use a combination of software and people to get the job done
Since the goal of energy management programs is often to improve efficiency and save money, let’s make the most of the tools at hand to achieve this. And we’re not talking about hiring an army of interns to analyze company data and find opportunities, but rather about using energy intelligence software to understand the data and make quick profits through free and low-cost energy saving measures.
Do we want to go further? So let’s hire an expert team of professional services, trained in energy-consuming systems and knowledgeable about our business, who can dig deep into operations with immersion evaluations and offer quantified recommendations to improve performance.
Let’s communicate success internally and externally
An effective energy management program implemented at our facilities can translate into real savings. Achieving these benefits requires putting energy management at the forefront of the entire organization and training external employees and suppliers on the energy impact of their work.
Achieving ISO 50001 certification requires this internal education, which can have the added benefit of improving employee engagement and productivity.
Once we have achieved our goals, let’s make sure we get credit for our work. Third-party certification under ISO 50001 is one way to demonstrate our leadership in energy management.
Businesses with US operations can go beyond ISO 50001, and achieve a superior energy performance designation offered by the DOE for those elite firms that make significant and lasting energy improvements at their facilities.
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