After the last shift is complete, there’s a hissing sound from one of the compressed air lines. As an isolated incident, this scenario may seem minor, but the facility manager knows that even when equipment is at rest, it is possible for large amounts of compressed air and utility budget to be wasted.
How? A lot of electricity, and horsepower, is required to crank compressed air out of the tank at a specific PSI. For example, a 100 horsepower air compressor at 75% power load in use for three shifts a day, year round, can cost approximately $40,000 per year just for the electricity to produce compressed air. Now, multiply that across 10 compressors, and you can spend $400,000 per year on compressed air alone. Even with lower usage, a series of unidentified leaks (or simply general waste) can wreak havoc on a facility’s budget and profitability.
The risk extends beyond compressed air, and simple waste. Closely monitoring and managing other utilities such as water, gas, electricity, and steam (which, along with air, make up the common W.A.G.E.S. acronym) help facility managers maximize cost efficiency, identify possible operational risks, and minimize unplanned downtime. Each utility presents a unique challenge:
Whether used as a coolant, or to make products like beer, milk, soft drinks and fruit juices, manufacturers use water in large quantities. In particular, food and beverage manufacturers, pay a premium for their water because it needs to be filtered and treated ahead of production.
Compressed air can be one of the most wasted utilities in an industrial environment as it is commonly misused for personal cooling and to clean off personal workspaces. For the user, it can be easy to overlook the fact that there is an expensive process behind the air in the tank.
Manufacturers use natural gas in a variety of ways such as to make plastics and fabrics, to heat up materials in preparation for production, and to fuel boilers. Any unplanned incident with natural gas has great consequences for overhead costs and environmental safety within a facility.
Electrical motors are commonplace in industrial environments and can pose big challenges to efficiency goals. According to the United States Department of Energy, the annual energy cost of running a motor is usually many times greater than its initial purchase price.
Steam is an essential part of the food and beverage production process as it is used to sterilize, cure, dry and distill raw ingredients and products. Because steam is made from the filtered water imported into food and beverage facilities, and often contains additives to prevent corrosion throughout processing, any instances of waste can increase manufacturing costs and threaten already narrow profit margins.
More and more, organizations rely on the Industrial IoT (IIoT) to analyze utility usage trends and anomalies to cut down on waste and get ahead of issues such as declining or abnormal equipment performance (and the larger-scale production issues that can often follow).
Here are three ways the IIoT helps forward-thinking facilities get ahead of utility-related issues:
Automate Collection & Centralization of Critical Data
The manual collection of utility data is a drain on productivity, a less-than-ideal use of costly man-hours, and creates opportunity for data to be influenced by human error. Through the IIoT, you can easily capture, verify, and centralize real-time and historical data across an entire industrial facility, multi-facility site, or enterprise. Because all utility data is stored in one place, you can more easily compare usage across a specific time, area, or site, and establish benchmarks to help identify best practices, or determine if there is abnormal consumption and waste.
Monitor Utilities to Proactively Address Potential Issues
Across the globe, motors consume between 55% and 63% of all electrical energy produced. Production processes rely on steady machine performance. If that performance becomes unreliable, the whole process, and output, can be seriously compromised. The IIoT enables you to monitor for abnormalities that can lead to unexpected utilities costs or expensive unplanned downtime. Even better, with solutions such as SiteWorx Sense, users can customize Email or SMS alarm notifications on operational-critical sensors.
Track Facility-Wide Utility Usage Through Metering
Regardless of which utilities are used most in your operation, they need to be tracked closely to understand how each is being deployed or assigned, and where more savings might be possible. Facility managers can meter virtually any utility activity. Metering and sub-metering allow for line-level cost allocation so you know exactly how much each production line spends on utilities. This helps you spot new opportunities for savings and create accurate budgets and forecasts.
The IIoT provides insight into where and how utilities are used so you can reduce waste and run your operation more efficiently. Through monitoring and data benchmarking, usage trends that might indicate a risk of unplanned downtime can be addressed proactively, while line-level cost allocation can help assign and manage production and operational costs on a more granular level. The result is a more informed utilities strategy that contributes to a safer, more productive, and more profitable operation.
Learn more about how the IIoT and SiteWorx Sense can bring efficiency to your facility: