Boost productivity and save on energy costs by learning how to raise the overall efficiency of your facility.
Manufacturing of any kind tends to demand high energy consumption and — unfortunately — even higher energy bills. By making a few adjustments to your client portfolio, systems operations, and logistics, you can minimize energy losses on everything from electricity and supplies expenditures to labor hours.
Use these expert tips to boost your factory’s energy efficiency:
Review Your Client List
Sometimes saving energy might be as simple as evaluating your client portfolio. Calculate the total costs required to meet the needs of each client and create a ranking system based on profitability paired with the amount and type of expenditure — including non-capital resources — that each client demands from your business.
You may identify areas to cut expenditures for each client, or may find that you over-allocate resources for clients who are more demanding or who file complaints more frequently. Don’t be afraid to make changes to client budgets, so long as you can maintain the frequency and quality of service that you deliver. Always aim to create a balanced portfolio that benefits your business and its desired results.
Evaluate Your Systems
All of your machinery consumes electricity — and probably a lot of it. Systems including air compressor systems, cooling and heating systems, and production machinery include a number of controls to help you customize your energy usage. For example, you can adjust the pressure switch function on your compressed air system to optimize pressure changes and ensure your machine isn’t operating at a peak pressure higher than is necessary.
Your air conditioning system can be programmed to turn off at specific hours and should be kept at the warmest temperature that is comfortable during working hours. Ensure you conduct regular maintenance checks on your heating and cooling systems to care for their filters, coils, and fins as well as identify any potential issues and areas that may help you conserve energy.
Hiring a professional to service your compressor, machines, and air conditioning systems with OEM parts is the wisest choice. As a trained industry expert, he or she will be able to better identify leaks (with a professional leak detector), accurately measure and change refrigerant, and check air flow, oil levels, and controls.
Quantify Every Cost in Your Supply Chain
A surefire way to improve efficiency is to evaluate your expenses down to the penny. If possible, assign a dollar value to each component of your logistics process, accounting not only for capital, but also for labor hours, energy consumption, and equipment corrosion. This level of thoroughness will enable you to identify priority areas demanding immediate attention.
Determine how much every bottleneck is costing your business and carefully evaluate which, if any, machines require immediate upgrades and which will remain cost- and energy-efficient for the time being.
In your evaluation, don’t neglect your suppliers. Determine which suppliers are providing you with materials and tools of the highest quality, and consider reducing your business scope with other suppliers in order to offer more business to those that supply the most durable (and thus, most efficient) parts. Furthermore, prioritizing suppliers who offer excellent customer service can raise efficiency because they may be more likely to fix problems quickly and help to mitigate your losses.
Improve Training and Logistics
One of the best ways to boost your facility’s overall energy efficiency is investing more into your own people and processes. Spend time training your employees thoroughly, and consider additional training sessions to teach employees cross-functional skills so they understand not only their own role, but the bigger picture of your business. When a box packer learns more about a picker’s job or a system operator’s job, he or she gains valuable insight into the logistics process that enables them to perform their own job with higher efficiency.
Many factory layouts are illogical, creating time and energy losses from inefficient movement on the factory floor. If your shipment labeling station is nowhere near the station for returns due to mis-labeling, you are contributing to your own logistical inefficiency. To fix this inefficiency, consider cellular manufacturing, arranging your factory floor layout to support a more efficient workflow.
Businesses should also invest in a strong workflow management and database software, such as an integrated, customizable warehouse management system (WMS) that allows you to cut energy losses by providing increased visibility into your supply chain.
Set Rational Goals for Improving Energy Efficiency
Finally, you can increase the energy efficiency of your factory by setting reasonable, measurable goals. After analyzing total values and expenditures and optimized your systems for peak efficiency, collaborate with your team to establish set deadlines by which to achieve your improvement goals. Assign teams to specific tasks to implement your changes. For example, your engineering team could be primarily responsible for optimizing systems and machine efficiency, while your management team could conduct trainings on a new WMS software or design a new factory floor layout.
Consider staggering the rollout of upgrades so as not to cause major disruptions in your pre-existing workflow. Monitor progress and continue to optimize your facility’s energy efficiency.