The food and beverage industry con- sistently ranks high among manufac- turing sectors in the U.S. in the category of energy usage. Surprisingly, energy
expenditures historically have been among
the most overlooked costs in a food plant. In
the past, energy management was straightforward – manufacturers simply received a
bill and paid it.
But today there’s a different scenario.
Increased competitive pressures, tighter
margins and rising energy costs are forcing manufacturers to alter their methods of
New ways of managing energy consumption and quality through sophisticated
monitoring tools have emerged – providing
the information companies need to be able
to take action to reduce energy use while
considering energy as an ingredient of production and a variable cost.
By developing an integrated energy
management program based on accurate
consumption and spending patterns and
demand profiles, companies can calculate
power consumption costs between their
energy base load, various utility equipment
and production lines or in the manufacturing of a specific product. With a more accurate determination of actual product costs,
managers are able to make more intelligent
Charting the Course
An important element of an effective
energy management strategy is to first
determine an energy management expert
who understands industrial processes, can
provide transfer of best practices from similar industries and knows how to uncover
energy savings opportunities.
This expert also can play a key role in
helping you understand their tariff structures and how energy bills are calculated.
For example, if the utility is offering four or
five different tariffs, which one best suits
your particular process? A tariff analysis can
identify alternative ways to save money and
evaluate new supplier and tariff options.
The analysis also can provide a detailed
examination of energy bills, including a
breakdown and explanation of all charges,
the best ways to reduce energy costs under
the current contract, and the best attributes
to look for in a new supplier or contract.
Before implementing the required energy
management technology, companies should
first identify their overall business goals,
and then develop an energy strategy that
seeks to accomplish those goals. Goals
should be specific to the areas of energy
costs that need to be addressed and integrated with other company strategies for
cost reduction, quality and productivity
In most cases, the first step for a plant
may be to simply define and understand the
plant base load, which is where and how
much energy is being consumed when little
or no product is being produced.
Often plant managers are surprised to
find that 60 to 70 percent of the plant’s
energy is being consumed when no production is running. Getting a handle on the true
base load or fixed portion of your energy
consumption is a good place to start.
Once the goals are identified and the
energy strategy is determined, the next
step is to put the technology and infrastructure in place to achieve the desired goals.
The good news is that while electricity is
the largest energy cost for most food and
beverage plants, it also offers the greatest
opportunities for savings.
Creating the Infrastructure
Approximately half of all energy consumption in the food and beverage industry
is used to change raw materials into products while the remaining is used for the
processes required for product preservation
and safety, such as freezing, drying, refrigeration and packaging. Knowing where
energies are allocated refers to the various
processes throughout the plant, such as
mixing, blending, depositing, baking, frying,
packing, refrigeration and warehousing.
Defining each of the largest energy consumers in the process is critical.
Underlying these processes are the
motors, fans, heaters and compressors.
How efficiently are they performing? Are the
motors and pumps the right size and style
for the application?
Once critical energy consumer’s design
or target consumption levels are defined,
they need to be measured. When the underlying infrastructure is in place to understand
Manage Energy Costs With a Well-Planned Strategy
By Mary Burgoon, Market Development Manager, Rockwell Automation
As energy consumption rises, food manufacturers can
take the right steps toward more efficient operations.