Exploring Our Energy Consumption
Several years ago we put an environmental action plan together to achieve our mission of becoming a more sustainable company. We first installed LED lights, a solar array and swapped out some older equipment for newer versions. But the question remained, what’s next?
There are many manufactures who claim to sell equipment that will save energy, increase efficiency and reduce bills, but being realistic, we don’t want to simply take their word for it. Often these types of machines and devices are very hard to monitor, if at all. So, we decided to look for an energy monitoring system to assess the energy we are using, our energy hot spots and what steps we should take next.
What is the best way to monitor energy?
Measuring energy can be a complex and expensive task, even just at a departmental level let alone on a full industrial level. The only measurements we were taking was from our main electric meter. This didn’t really allow us to monitor anything effectively due to the nature of our small and large injection moulding jobs. All the energy usage was being lumped together.
To combat this, we contacted GridDuck who specialise in energy monitoring. The GridDuck system allows businesses to monitor, control and automate their electricity use through a combination of hardware and software. We had a chat over the phone and invited them to our site here in Norfolk so they could get a good idea of what was involved.
The system GridDuck proposed included an online dashboard which would connect IoT sensors, clamps and switches together, allowing us to observe energy usage through the monitored system. The system set up would mean that we could install 15 monitors around our site, which through a mesh-network could span the entire area we operate in. This would then connect back to a main hub, sending the information back to the dashboard.
The sensors were easy for our electrician to install in the designated machines and meters. As each one was installed they connected to the receiver hub and we started to get real time information on the power each machine was consuming. The power usage was displayed in two forms, KWh and direct current, recorded over time. With just 15 devices we could monitor the core equipment across our factory from ovens to grinders and plastic injection moulding machines of all sizes.
Using the new monitors we quickly identified hot spots where electricity was being consumed a lot faster than we realised. Our ovens and compressors were consuming much more energy than we anticipated. It also clarified areas that we thought were heavy energy users but were actually not, such as our conveyor belts and chiller.
This initial data allowed us to plan our next energy reduction strategy, by investing in a voltage optimisation system. This was then quickly followed by another project to replace our older ovens with new energy efficient ones. These two projects combined started saving 15-20% of our total energy usage almost straight away. These savings meant that the system paid for itself within 3 months, making it a very good investment.
The GridDuck system allowed us to justify further increases to our solar system, better evaluate newer models of machinery and clearly identify areas for energy efficiency around the factory. It was even found that machines of the same tonnage were showing different energy uses, which enabled us to change the way we schedule our production runs, favouring the more efficient machinery.
Here at Bowles & Walker we are always trying to improve our efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint. After using an energy monitoring system we would never go back. Without it, we would not have achieved half of our environmental goals so quickly.
For more information about our services and environmental journey please call us on 01953 885294 or email email@example.com. We would be more than happy to work with you on your journey to create products, reduce costs and support UK manufacturers.
For information regards GridDuck, please contact them through their website: https://www.gridduck.com/