Awell-designed and well-constructed new facility is easy to be proud of — full of efficient and cost effective equipment and controls, with utilities and
processes well matched and resilient in design. Industry
leaders rightly focus on up-time reliability and product
quality and relentlessly strive to meet the demands of key
customers for product performance improvements. But time
marches on and even that “new” plant, so carefully designed,
built, and maintained has new demands, new competition,
and old design assumptions and equipment. Staying
competitive has to remain a life-long discipline.
One way industry leaders maintain and increase their
competitiveness is to commit to periodically reviewing
energy usage with the same intensity used to review other
key competitive measures. The relentless pace of global
competition combined with rapid changes in today’s energy
markets make energy assessments on key processes and
utilities more urgent than ever before.
There are multiple factors that make energy assessment
challenging. Documentation can be one of those challenges,
especially with older facilities and equipment, because if the
original hardcopy documents are not available, they can be
difficult to find electronically. And vendors may have gone
out of business, or placed limitations on how far back they
archive data on older or discontinued equipment.
Plant leadership availability presents another challenge
when conducting an effective energy assessment.
Assessments must be scheduled around busy, critical
production schedules and maintenance turn-arounds, with
plant staff time always at a premium.
However, one of the biggest challenges can be gathering
the right data to validate the current needs of a facility and
reconcile that against the original design. The equipment
and controls the company has been using may have become
obsolete in the face of modern production demands, or may
be ill suited for the current role. Likewise, measurements
Increase Global Competitive
Advantage With Energy
By Eric Hopkins