Sunday, December 06, 2009

Industrial Energy Efficiency: An Explanation

Last week, during a facility visit, I encountered yet another opportunity to explain what is meant by the term "energy efficiency." This time, it was a production manager who said to me (in so many words): "Energy efficiency means reducing the energy I need to grow my business." Really.

So I thought about it, and responded this way:

1. Think of your facility-- or any industrial process-- as a money-making machine. You put some tokens in one end, and a revenue product comes out the other. “Energy” is among the tokens you put in.

2. If you compete well in your industry, you either (1) use fewer tokens to get a fixed level of production, OR (2) get an increasing amount of output from a fixed number of tokens.

3. If you HAVE TO put tokens in your machine, wouldn’t it be better if the tokens were dimes instead of quarters? Or nickels instead of dimes? Basically, this is what energy efficiency is all about—not reducing the tokens available to you, but getting the most from the tokens you use.

Okay readers, What's your definition of energy efficiency?



At 10:40 AM, Blogger Mark Melvin said...

I've come to think of this as Energy Effectiveness rather than Efficiency. Effectiveness is the degree to which the energy spend contributes to the customer perceived value of the end product. A less expensive form of energy, perhaps less efficient, can be more effective in delivering value. I've also seen effort put into improving the efficiency of a process when ultimately it did not add value and needed to be eliminated. It's a distinction made in Six Sigma - Doing things correctly (efficient) Vs doing the correct things (effective).

At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Tom Hawes said...

One answer, four parts:
1. If it is on and it does not need to be, turn it off.
2. If it has to be on and you can slow it down, do so.
3. If you can re-use what you were throwing out or exhausting, re-use it.
4. If technology offers something that does the same thing, but requires less energy, get it (if it has a 5 yr payback or better and you got lots of use out of the previous one.)
Pretty simple, but I like simple.


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