Manufacturers Slash Utility Costs by Benchmarking and Energy Monitoring
5/18/2012 7:50:00 AM
Manufacturers are constantly searching for ways to slash costs. Maybe use less expensive material. Hire another worker to avoid overtime expenses. Repair versus replace existing equipment. But how focused is your company on becoming more efficient with utilities?
On average, the cost of gas, water and electricity can represent 30 percent of a manufacturer's budget. By benchmarking and monitoring energy consumption, companies can save five, even six figures, on their utility bills.
There are 16 different types of buildings that can be benchmarked against each other, ranging from school buildings and government offices to places of worship. Although the process involves comparinga building's energy use to another building of the same type and size, this is more difficult to do with manufacturing plants. Two plants may have the same square footage, for example, but produce totally different products that require different machinery, each consuming different amounts of energy. However, manufacturers can still engage in this process by benchmarking against themselves.
Just by alerting employees to energy conservation, manufacturers can save four percent on utilities, according to recent industry reports. Take office employees who make a conscious effort to turn lights off when they leave a conference room or plant workers who immediately shut down equipment when daily tasks are completed.
To maximize the benchmarking and monitoring process, consider applying these inhouse strategies:
- Drive your energy conservation program from top down. Senior executives set the tone and need to demonstrate their commitment to decreasing energy consumption throughouttheir plants and especially corporate offices.
- Solicit employee feedback for energy savings ideas. Reward staff [praise from top management counts] who offerrealistic ideas that save money.
- Identify a champion of the cause, a staff member who really cares about energy conversation. Make benchmarking and monitoring part of his or her daily responsibilities.
- Educate all employees about ways to conserve energy during staff meetings or seminars.
- Establish priorities. Identify which processes will offer the quickest return-on-investment, then implement them.
- Share results, not only with top management, but every employee. People like to know that their work ideas,struggles or even sacrifices were worth the effort.
The first step for the individual overseeing your benchmarking and energy monitoring program is to gather your company's utility bills over the past three years. Compare them. Analyze the differences. After factoring in price hikes by utilitycompanies, why were costs lower last March than this March? Identify when you use the most electricity, gas or water. Is it during the peak period establishedby your electric utility? If so, are you paying a premium or perhaps penalty?
To monitor utility usage in the future, you will need to hire a mechanical contractor that specializes in energy monitoring to place monitoring systems on your utility meters. Sometimes, electrical contractors can also