The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the overall food industry marketplace. In this issue, we ask: What steps can food manufacturers take to reduce energy costs?
Traditionally, manufacturers seeking to reduce energy consumption have relied on easy-to-manage, quick payback projects like lighting improvements. Others have turned to standalone energy management systems to gain visibility into energy usage. However, these systems are difficult to justify financially, and often it’s challenging to directly link energy consumption to specific process operations that can be improved.
To truly control energy costs for their entire operations, food manufacturers need to have a clear and accurate understanding of their energy resource consumption. This requires a more granular approach than has been applied in the past — one that involves monitoring, measuring and visualizing energy consumption data from individual, energy-intensive processes and equipment within a facility.
Food manufacturers can attain this level of detail by tapping into their existing automation infrastructure in a new way — connecting energy-enabled devices to the systems that already exist on the plant floor. Just as food manufacturers are using their control systems to reduce variability in production, they can now use these systems to make changes based on energy consumption — processes can be refined, schedules shifted, and machines and lines put into lower-power states based on specific requirements. Using this approach makes it unnecessary to install a separate energy management system, which reduces implementation costs and minimizes the ROI timeline for the project.