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“If you want to save energy shut the factory down”

Why tackling energy reduction in isolation doesn’t make sense and a better way to go

Over time I’ve consulted with, worked on, and otherwise participated in all sorts of natural resource savings and conservation projects - usually with Fortune 500 size manufacturing companies. 

Here’s what I’ve learned.

If the energy project is done in isolation it rarely hits its target goals and is usually canceled.


Why Is This? 

It’s super basic - manufacturers are running factories to make things, and making things - more things, faster, will almost always trump saving energy. If this weren’t true, and if energy efficiency/conservation alone was the top priority - manufacturers would shut down their factories and go home - problem solved. 


Sheila - are you saying reducing energy consumption isn’t a laudable goal? That it can’t or shouldn’t be done? Of course not - we are all global stewards of our small planet, and using less natural resources is something we all should be focused on. 


I’m saying the way to reduce energy costs is by running factories better - by having more efficient production processes, making better quality products, eliminating variability, reducing waste and rework, identifying malfunctioning equipment and optimizing it. By doing so we get results - by pairing an ‘important’ goal - energy efficiency, with an ‘urgent’ goal - more and better products. 


I’m further saying the way to do it best is with technology that takes in data from all sources available - production, cost, asset, and energy - amalgamating and contextualizing it so there’s a complete picture of what’s been happening to date, using digital twins to analyze performance and model the best way to achieve sometimes competing goals, putting the models into operation, using workflows to detect in real-time any anomalous conditions negatively impacting goal attainment, and looking into the future to ensure any present-day conditions that, left unchecked, would also cause problems are noted and addressed. 


If technology sounds too good to be true, it’s not. It’s here today helping those very same Fortune 500 customers make more and better products…. And saving energy at the same time.