Traditional energy-saving methods don’t work in industrial plants

Industrial plants are different 4

Holmes: I recently had a video conference with “John” one of the most capable and respected energy professionals not only in this country but in a number of others where he has worked. He has been in this business as long as I have, since the first Oil Embargo of the mid-70’s.

Watson: What did you talk about?

Holmes: John explained some of the very advanced work he is now doing with integrating the software from different Energy and Building Management Systems (BMS) of varying ages and manufacturers. He is building comprehensive software systems that not only integrate all of the data, but spot anomalies indicating system problems and issue work orders to fix them. I have been reading about and following his work and other similar developments for some time.

Watson: Sounds fascinating. How can this be applied to our industrial projects?

Holmes: That’s what I wanted to learn. As I heard him explain what he does, something just wasn’t clicking. Much of his experience doesn’t reflect mine. I kept thinking about the people and energy systems I have worked with in buildings for nearly 40 years.

I asked John what his involvement was with actually operating the facilities on a day-to-day basis, who his customers were, etc. He explained that he works mostly on the controls side and his primary tool is the BMS. Everything depends on working through the temperature control contractors.

Watson: Isn’t that really expensive. Who pays?

Holmes: I asked him. “The owner”, John replied.

Watson: He must work with large non-industrial clients with deep pockets where the BMS has the capability to control the lighting and HVAC systems, the ones using most of the energy.

Holmes: You’re right. Most of the energy dollars spent in industrial plants are for running production equipment and supporting systems. Lights and HVAC are normally a small part of the total utility costs.

Watson: Doesn’t sound like John’s methods are appropriate for industrial plants

Holmes: Correct. You can’t just call in your friendly temperature controls company and have them control the production systems, the systems that use most of the energy. You need to involve the people who actually understand those systems, the ones who operate and maintain them.

Watson: Assuming you’ve already upgraded your lights, attacked the beast that accounts for 2% of your total utility costs, what else can you do?

Holmes: We’ll talk about that in our next Blog Watson, Industrial Plants Need to Empower Their Employees to Save Power.

Tell us about your experiences, both good and bad with energy professionals, what has worked and what hasn’t. Send us your comments, thoughts and suggestions on how to improve our profession so we can all continue to learn from each other. Thanks – Holmes & Watson.

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  • Old news. Been having that problem with bean counters who get some energy saving guru to sell them a service that does nothing for us. Most plant engineers understand that lighting, compressed air and motor efficiencies are things we need to do but for my company, scrap is the greatest energy hog. Once had a VP tell me to come up with a plan to reduce energy costs by 5%. He had ordered every third light to be turned off. After doing the analysis I came back to him and said we can do this by reducing scrap from the current 18% to just 15%. He didn't understand where the energy was consumed.

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