Cimlogic Solutions: Energy in your factory- The hidden ingredient

Post by Claire Healey on Tuesday 6th October

Author: Mike Hodge, CEO, Cimlogic Ltd
Part 5 of 9 Cimlogic Solutions Blog Posts

There is no shortage of news about Carbon Footprints, Renewable energy, saving energy and hence the planet.

Consequently, just like a new year’s resolution, teams set to work, looking for the quick wins. All too often – these initiatives focus on what the eye can see for example, a conveyor left running, an oven burning with no product inside or a stirrer stirring an empty tank.

What is not so obvious (or at least not without the proper tools), is the associated cost of energy which is consumed and wasted in the fight to address some other business initiative, such as reducing manpower or reworking product.

A more holistic approach to making business decisions is difficult with actionable data and can be influenced by what the eye can see. As a consequence, the resulting solutions are often sub-standard, based on a business case which generates a lower return in investment.

Having actionable tools and data which is collected in context can provide a great springboard for improvement opportunities which really make a difference in the fight for improvement.

Consider a typical factory – there may be many batch based processes – for example making up batches of ingredients, cleaning in process systems, assembly of parts.

In each of these cases, there will be conditions that allow the process to move from one step to another – maybe a heated tank of water is waiting to reach the correct causticity, or an ingredient is waiting for a QC person to do a quality check. Both of these examples could be variable in length – and both can be consuming significant amounts of energy during the wait (e.g. Heating or Stirring).

Is this a big deal ? Well, consider if a batch is delayed by just 5 mins on average and you make 20 such batches a day. That’s about 7,000 batches a year, and 35,000 minutes, or to put another way 24 Days’ worth of energy wasted! You do the maths! – Is it worth the investment to tighten up your batch times, or at least get a handle on the variability which may be chewing at your resources and adding to your energy bill.

Ok – this is a hypothetical scenario – but it gives a sense of how seemingly small problems in manufacturing can actually be big problems, and energy is likely to be the last thing which is taken into consideration.

Batch ‘Performance’ hides in the shadows of OEE, and seldom gets the limelight. Measuring energy in context with Batch Performance is the icing on the cake and gives visibility to the size of the prize.

Also consider when a production line stops for some kind of fault or production issue. Conveyors are turning, heating elements are heating, ovens are on, cooling is on, lights are on, with no visibility of when the plant is due to run again.

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