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Our “TEN Cents”: Energy Efficiency for Manufacturing Plants and Industrial Facilities

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When speaking with any Production or Plant Manager, safety and production are always the two main concerns for these clients. Unfortunately, these folks are often challenged to do more (with less) and find ways to positively impact the bottom line. Implementing energy efficiency measures help provide a strong business case to accomplish both goals.

  • Safety & Production: Fewer accidents and increased production may be met with better lighting, HVAC mechanical improvements (VFD’s), and device level data loggers
    • Lighting
      • Are you working in an area that is over lit or under lit? Blind spots, or shadows, when working with machinery and process equipment opens the door to accidents.  Eliminating “blind spots” with evenly distributed lighting and proper light levels provide for the safest, most efficient work environments. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines for lumen output, wiring standards, etc. For more information, please visit
  • Variable Frequency Drives (VFD’s)
    • Large pumps and motors within plants offer many opportunities for VFD’s to reduce load and promote efficient use of equipment. A VFD is a type of motor controller that drives an electric motor by varying the frequency and voltage supplied to the electric motor.  An estimated 60-65% of electrical energy is used to supply motors in the United States.  75% of which are variable-torque fan, pump, and compressor loads.  When electric motors are not required to run at full speed, the VFD will ramp down the frequency and voltage to meet the requirements of the electric motor’s load, and not only operate more efficiently, but save you money in the process.
  • Data Loggers
    • Facilities with a lot of process and comfort (HVAC) equipment present many opportunities for savings and efficiency. Having the ability to measure currents at the circuitry level, not only provides the customer a tool for predictive maintenance, but plenty of opportunities to quickly identify savings associated with malfunctioning equipment & systems.  Imagine a tool that allows you to quickly identify that Machine Shop Rooftop Unit #23’s compressor is failing, although your automation system shows you it’s “on” and appears to be functioning properly.  Additionally, being able to see the true cost of that failing compressor now enables you to make the decision on whether a repair or replacement is warranted.
  • Other questions to ask yourself that can impact your bottom line and production:
    • Is there an opportunity to reclaim (process) heat and reintroduce into the facility?
    • Is there an opportunity to introduce outside air on cooler days so the cooling systems don’t have to run as much?
    • Is there an opportunity to put controls/sensors in departments which only operate one or two shifts, as opposed to three?

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There is always opportunity for improvement in these environments. Long production hours = more money spent on utilities = more savings potential.  Even if you suspect you’re operating efficiently, think of what a conservative 15% savings means to your business. In the process, you’ll also achieve production benefits as well, and most importantly…a safe, comfortable, and efficient work environment for all. 

Stay tuned next week when we explore opportunities commercial office buildings can take advantage of, and don't forget to follow Direct Energy Business on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook

This article was written by The Efficiency Network. Headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (with regional offices throughout the Northeast), The Efficiency Network’s (TEN) team has collectively performed over $500,000,000 worth of energy efficiency projects across every business sector. TEN has developed a proven way to help clients of all shapes and sizes make sense of energy efficiency.  Visit for more information and follow us on twitter

The Efficiency Network (TEN) spends a great deal of time developing and implementing energy efficiency projects for all types of customers, including manufacturing and industrial customers. Although many customers may share similar financial motivations for energy efficiency projects, there are many other unrealized benefits out there.

Posted: June 16, 2015