The industrial sector (manufacturing, agriculture, construction, mining, oil and gas industry and similar) is responsible for nearly one-third of all energy usage in the world. Only in the U.S., these facilities spend around $200 billion every year to stay powered, and they waste nearly 30% of all energy they require. All in all, they produce a lot of unnecessary energy waste. So how much energy is actually used for powering big plants? Much less than you think since a lot of energy escapes through leaky compressors, outdated equipment and other energy guzzlers. So how can manufacturers reduce their energy needs?
Creating Energy Management Teams
One of the main reasons companies don’t achieve good energy saving is because they don’t know which sector is responsible for energy management. If a manufacturer decides to create an energy management team, they will monitor energy usage in an efficient way and implement ways to reduce waste.
Conducting energy audits
Energy audits that employ professional help from energy specialists can quantify how much energy each department is consuming and identify peak consumption times from month to month. Audits also offer recommendations on best energy efficiency upgrades that provide users with the best ROI.
Updating the equipment
The equipment also plays a big part in the energy efficiency puzzle. No matter how many computers and analysts a company has on its side, no industry can achieve necessary efficiency without investing in new-generation equipment. Every manufacturer should take note from oil and gas giants who have been working on energy consumption reduction by investing in efficient machines, tools and other equipment. Even small changes like more effective butterfly valves can result in the improvement of output and lower downtime, both of which can reduce energy consumption.
Every industry has certain key processes that can’t be changed. However, the way they are conducted and the waste they leave behind can be cut with the use of big analytics and AI-driven forecasting. This move can improve the efficiency of processes and improve machinery use from 60-70%m, which is something most equipment scores, to 100% as it should be.
Automating important processes
Artificial intelligence can help with data analysis, but it can also take direct control of certain processes. Infrastructure laid out by the Internet of Things, in the combination with recent breakthroughs in the field, can soon bring us fully automated, safe and energy-efficient manufacturing processes. In some industries, humans will mostly be responsible for maintenance duties.
Studying machinery energy consumption
The data collected by the Energy Management Teams and energy audits can tell the manufacturer with machinery uses the most energy to operate. If possible, companies can schedule operation of these machines outside of peak hours which can reduce costs and unburden the electric network.
Switching to sustainable energy sources
Various production processes often require the use of heavy machines that use a lot of power to run. One of the easiest ways to reduce waste and make any industry more efficient and green is to find green ways to power these giants. Many industries and their biggest polluters already invested a lot of money into clean energy projects giving the entire world hope that we will one day be able to forget about nonrenewable sources.
Engaging in recycling
While recycling is still on the margins of many industries, it has the potential to change them from the core. For instance, the oil market is estimated to reach a waste amount of US$ 13,806.2 million by 2026. So, many of the big players are repurposing some of their infrastructure to recycling instead of extraction. In many cases, recycling requires less energy than the extraction of resources and production of new materials and products, plus it reduces overall output while keeping the industry viable thanks to a new source of revenue.
Due to growing energy demand, diverse energy sources and diverse user needs, many industries are facing energy consumption challenges. Some challenges manufacturers face are also of the legislative nature, concerning regulatory and legislative activity intended to minimize environmental impact from energy use. Many countries are further exploring laws that aim to reduce pollution, energy waste and gas emission. Industries all over the world are asking their bigger consumers to provide energy consumption reports. Still, we have a long way to go to fix the damage we’ve caused to the environment due to our reckless energy consumption. But, hopefully, the future is bright and filled with responsible energy consumers.