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09 January 2014

Energy Saving Tips … Manufacturing

Posted By: AIB Business

In your manufacturing operations, it may be possible to reduce your energy bills by as much as 20% just by implementing simple, inexpensive energy efficiency measures such as using variable-speed drives, fixing leaks in your compressed air systems, and cleaning your refrigeration condensers. The following short-term and long-term tips offer significant energy savings for manufacturers:



  • Turn things off.
    For every 1,000 kwh you save by turning off equipment, you save approximately €150 on your utility bill.  Take a walk through your plant after hours and look for the following items that are most often left running when not in use:
    o    Motors
    o    Computers and office equipment
    o    Space heaters
    o    Lights
    o    Outside-air intake systems
  • Turn things down.  
    For equipment that cannot be completely powered down, you can often save energy by running such equipment at minimum levels or via enhanced controls when not in active use. Examples include:
    o    HVAC
    o    Lighting
    o    Vending machines
  • Perform regular maintenance and cleaning on all plant equipment to save energy and prolong lifespans.  Pay particular attention to:
    o    Process heating
    o    Motors
    o    Fans, bearings and belts
    o    Condenser coils
    o    Boilers
    o    Air compressors
    o    Air filters




The low cost purchase price of a motor can be deceptive; the electricity bill for a motor for just one month can be more than its purchase price. Reducing the speed of a fan or pump significantly reduces the power required. A 20% reduction in speed can reduce the power consumed by 50%.

  • Install variable-speed drives. These can reduce running costs when used for fans and pumps.
  • Invest in high-efficiency motors. These might qualify for tax relief through the Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme and could also help you to reduce your energy consumption.
  • Maintain motor systems by lubricating them where appropriate. Also check belt tightness and alignment.
  • Because of slippage, V-belts have an average efficiency of 92% when first installed. However, efficiency decreases over time due to stretching. Toothed belts, on the other hand, have an efficiency of 99% because of their interlocking power transfer. In addition, they run up to three years without maintenance. After conversion, companies can significantly reduce energy costs as well as maintenance costs.

Compressed Air

Compressed air represents around 10% of industrial power usage. It is estimated that 30% of this is wasted and could be saved by introducing simple, cost-effective energy efficient measures.

  • Consider reducing the operating pressure of your compressed air system. A 1-bar reduction could save about 7% of the energy required for compression.
  • Turn air compressors off when not in use. A compressor installation that is on when there is no demand will consume 20-70% of its full load power.
  • Find leaks – a single pinhole-sized lead can lose hundreds of euros a year.


  • Check your door seals. A faulty one could increase the refrigeration unit's power consumption by as much as 11%.
  • Don't put too much refrigerant charge in: If it leaks, it can increase your energy costs by over 10%.
  • Clean refrigeration condensers. Dirty condensers can increase costs by around 26%.


  • Encourage staff to turn off lights when not in use.
  • Label light switches so that it is easy to see which switch controls which light.
  • Ensure that lights are switched off in unoccupied areas and when the premises are closed.
  • Make the best use of natural light. For example, ensure window blinds are open in daylight hours, and clean skylights.
  • Ensure security lighting time clocks change with the seasons. Fitting a daylight sensor control can also help.


  • Check the insulation on hot and cold pipework, and process ovens, for damage. Repair where necessary.
  • Check whether valve flanges are insulated. If they are not, install jackets –payback periods can be as low as 12 months.
  • Use lids on process tanks, especially out of hours, to prevent losses through surface evaporation.

Written by: ResourceKraft – supplier of enterprise energy management systems

If you require finance for energy-saving projects, talk to AIB today.

Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.

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