system assessment to help assure the
program is following the ongoing plan set
If a manufacturer or producer is unable to
control their power usage and does not
know their energy-consumption profiles,
it can make reducing energy costs a
difficult task. This is why having the right
information is key.
Fortunately for food and beverage
manufacturers, technologies are available
that allow them to accurately monitor,
analyze and control both their energy
consumption and quality. Bottom line:
Energy is no longer the unmanageable
expense it once was.
Everyone wants to improve energy management. While there are countless best practices to improve
energy efficiency in processing, let’s instead
look at it from an engineering perspective.
When designing a new facility or
renovating an existing one, consider the
different ways the plant can prioritize
energy management within each
engineering group that brings the building
to life. Let’s explore how you can design
energy management into your next
greenfield or renovation project.
The biggest consumer of energy that
the electrical engineering department has
control over is a facility’s lighting. There
are several ways to make lighting more
efficient, along with some innovative
approaches to managing consumption.
LED lights: LED lights have become the
new standard. These energy-efficient
bulbs last longer and translate into long-term savings. LED lighting is great for
warehouses due to dimmability, low
maintenance costs and its ability to perform
well in cooler conditions.
Occupancy sensors: Installing occupancy
sensors ensures lights aren’t left on when
they’re not being used. These motion-detecting sensors determine when a person
or piece of equipment moves in the room
and turn the lights on accordingly. In cold
storage warehouses and facilities, lights are
typically set to a minimum level when not
Daylight harvesting: This technology
adapts to ambient daylight in a space and
adapts the brightness of lighting fixtures
accordingly. The idea is to maximize the
amount of natural light available and
minimize energy consumption, while still
maintaining a level of light that meets OSHA
standards. Sensors that toggle lights on
or off are typically installed, but dimmable
lights are also available. The latter requires
a greater investment up front, but it allows
artificial and natural light to adjust on a
sliding scale depending on the environment.
Installing meters can help plant
personnel monitor energy usage more
precisely and make adjustments
accordingly. These so-called “submeters”
are installed in addition to a plant’s main
utility meter and can monitor individual
consumption areas such as refrigeration
equipment, mechanical equipment,
processing and lighting.
A usage meter is like a speedometer
on your car: You don’t need one to drive,
but it’s helpful to know if you’re speeding.
These relatively inexpensive add-ons can
track spending and help identify where
saving efforts should be concentrated.
Energy recovery ventilators (ERVs)
ERVs can generate big cost savings if
incorporated into a facility’s HVAC system.
Here’s how they work: When outside air
is brought into an HVAC system, it has
to be conditioned (cooled or warmed)
before entering the building. An ERV allows
outgoing air to transfer some of its energy
to the incoming air without contaminating
it, meaning less energy is used to condition
that outside air.
Variable frequency drives (VFDs)
VFDs are used to slow down motors
and fans. Traditionally, a motor or fan only
toggles on or off, so even if it is only needed
to perform a relatively small task, it would
still ramp up to its maximum capacity. A
VFD allows for more control over a motor
or fan, and adjusts the output according
to specific needs. VFDs can be installed
on just about any mechanical equipment
—from pumps and fans to motors and
Head pressure controls
Newer condenser controls
Installing VFDs on evaporators and
compressors is an energy-smart move for
a refrigeration system, as well. Installing
a VFD on evaporator fans can translate to
two-to-four percent savings on average
with a payback range of one-to-five years.
Having VFDs on at least one compressor per
suction level could see a payback level of
Tracking/Utilizing Usage Data
Once these cost-saving features are
designed into a facility, it’s up to plant
personnel to monitor usage and optimize
processing. Today, building management
systems (BMS) and building automation
systems (BAS) are more robust than ever.
These software systems can receive a
variety of inputs such as energy usage,
temperature information and equipment
status within a facility. This technology has
come a long way, and many BMS and BAS
systems are now cloud-based. That means
one person can log-in to the platform from
anywhere and analyze data from several
Energy management is a continuous
effort at any food and beverage facility.
Monitoring software and optimized
processes are important, but it’s paramount
to ensure that engineering infrastructure
and design support those efforts to ensure
a facility is not taking one step forward and
two steps back.
How To Conserve Energy Across Every Aspect Of Your Food Plant
By Ryan Danhour, Design Project Manager, Stellar