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January 22, 2024

| 5 min read

5 ways to reduce energy use with good maintenance

Keeping the lights on doesn’t come cheap. In 2021, the U.S. spent $1.3 trillion on energy, or 5.7% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In addition, 32.4% of U.S. energy consumption is from industrial manufacturing. High energy usage doesn’t just tax the bottom line either; it can wreak havoc on the environment and cost Mother Nature big time. That is why manufacturers must track energy consumption and create strategies for efficient energy use.

For manufacturing facilities to optimize energy consumption and cut costs, they must use one key ingredient; data. It’s crucial to have real-time insight into equipment, inventory, maintenance schedules and utilities.

But just having that data isn’t enough to make a dent in a facility’s energy use. This information must be analyzed and used to target areas for improvement. This takes skill, commitment, communication, and the right tools. There’s a lot to plan, organize, and track, making cutting energy costs a tricky endeavor.

By pinpointing some areas where energy use can become more efficient, it is easier to identify the tools and tasks needed to achieve this goal. Once these resources are in place, metrics can be tracked, trends can be uncovered, energy consumption drops, and costs go down.

This article explores five of the most common ways energy is wasted during maintenance, how this leads to higher costs and what maintenance teams can do to reduce energy use.

Five common sources of wasted energy at production facilities

Here are five big sources of wasted energy and how they can affect a facility’s bottom line.

1. Reliance on reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance refers to repairs that are done when equipment has already broken down. Reactive maintenance is less expensive and time-consuming in the short-term than other methods, like preventive maintenance, but it often leads to reduced asset reliability and efficiency in the long-term. Because equipment becomes less efficient as time goes on, it uses more energy to produce the same output, meaning the asset’s value continues to shrink. For example, in the United States alone, inefficient compressed air systems waste $3.2 billion each year. This is just one consequence of a maintenance strategy that leans too heavily on reactive maintenance, instead of using it as part of a balanced maintenance strategy.

2. Inefficient practices

Small inefficiencies can end up wasting loads of energy. For example, many facilities do not run their production lines 24/7. However, these facilities often leave HVAC systems running all day, every day. Cooling systems account for about 15% of a manufacturing facility’s average annual energy use. Shutting down HVAC units, even for two hours every day, could cut energy use by 1.2%. This might not seem like a lot, but it could mean saving tens of thousands of dollars every year while cutting your facility’s carbon footprint.

3. Scrap and rework

Scrap and rework are some of the biggest culprits of wasted energy at equipment intensive facilities. Defects usually occur when equipment breaks down. If a product sits while repairs take place, it may need to be pulled from the line and the defective product is either thrown out or reprocessed. Additional uptime used to rework products can increase energy consumption by up to 14%. Not only does this lead to higher energy costs, but it also results in spending more on labor and other resources for each reworked or scrapped unit, reducing the value derived from production.

According to the International Energy Agency, around 2.8 trillion USD would be invested in energy for 2023. More than 1.7 trillion USD is going to clean energy, including renewable power.

4. Poor inventory management

Over one trillion dollars in obsolete equipment and parts are currently sitting on the shelves of manufacturing facilities in the US. This is the result of poor inventory management. The energy used to store outdated parts “just in case” can be huge. The cost of this wasted energy can be up to 5% of the part’s value every year. For example, if your facility purchased a motor for $5,000, which sits in the storeroom unused for one year, the energy cost of storing that motor is $250. Multiply that by dozens or hundreds of unused parts, and you start to see the issue. Then there’s disposal—spare inventory also has to be either recycled or scrapped, and a huge amount of energy is used to dispose of obsolete inventory every year.

5. Ineffective scheduling

Sometimes, it’s not about changing what you do, but how you do it. If a facility isn’t strategic about the timing of maintenance, its energy consumption can be through the roof. Most facilities are billed for energy at two different rates; a higher one during peak hours and a lower one during non-peak hours. Many facilities don’t take advantage of non-peak periods to complete energy-intensive tasks. A lack of coordination between maintenance and production schedules can result in inefficiencies, higher energy costs, lower returns, and a bottom line that has not been maximized.

Five ways to use maintenance software to reduce energy use

Here are some ways to use software like a CMMS to help save energy, save money and make your facility be more sustainable.

1. Build a better preventive maintenance strategy

A great preventive maintenance routine is crucial to keeping assets in the best shape possible for as long as possible, which will reduce energy use and costs. Conduct regular checks of important equipment to identify problems and correct them before they become larger and reduce an asset’s ability to function efficiently. It’s also important to build a preventive maintenance strategy on data. Solid data can help facilities determine the most efficient way to maintain assets and when to replace equipment with more energy-efficient models. Maintenance software is one way to create a solid preventive maintenance strategy and achieve peak asset efficiency through automated scheduling, work orders, notifications and more.

2. Create digital and automated work orders

Using maintenance software to automate work orders can help standardize tasks and make it easy to reduce energy use in small, but impactful ways. Daily work orders can be set up to remind users of energy-saving tasks. This can include putting equipment in energy-saving modes or turning up the temperature on air conditioning units. Software also eliminates the need for paperwork which lowers your environmental footprint and the associated costs. Finally, digital work orders often include an option to attach a standard checklist to frequent PMs and repairs. This ensures that maintenance is done correctly and equipment functions as efficiently as possible.

3. Collect better data

One way to reduce excessive energy consumption is to identify problematic trends in assets and correct them before they become serious. This process starts with collecting solid data and using this information to create reports. One way to ensure data is accurately collected and turned into useful reports is through maintenance software. Sensors attached to assets can measure various elements of the equipment, such as vibration. Using this data, reports can be automatically generated and used to identify possible problems in an asset before they lead to a breakdown. Equipment can be checked and repaired before a bigger problem arises, which means less scrap and rework, reduced energy use, and lower costs.

4. Establish a more efficient inventory system

Getting a firm handle on inventory can help facilities stop wasting energy and cut costs. Storing inventory requires energy, which means when fewer unnecessary parts are stored, energy consumption drops. In order to be efficient with inventory space, it’s crucial to collect data, run regular reports on usage and establish baselines and cycle counts. From these results, maintenance teams can identify the best way to use and order spare parts. Maintenance software, like a CMMS, can be used to track these KPIs in a central database, which makes reporting easier. Software can also automate inventory purchasing based on these reports. The result is a more efficient inventory system, which saves energy and money.

5. Use solid reports to create effective schedules

It’s probably obvious to you by now that reporting and data are important factors when trying to reduce energy use at production heavy facilities. Another way reporting can be used to eliminate excessive energy use is using the data extracted from these reports to schedule maintenance more effectively. Using maintenance software, reports can be run to find tasks that use the most energy. These tasks can then be scheduled to coincide with non-peak hours. Work orders are created, and tasks are prioritized, assigned, and triggered automatically. Not only are PMs done more efficiently, but they are booked when production is least affected.

Learn more about how your facility can cut costs, reduce energy use and become more sustainable with the help of maintenance software:

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