Reducing overheads is part of the remedy. Manufacturers’ organisation EEF says manufacturing firms face a global ‘economic hangover’ from 2015 that will continue into 2016.
In its annual survey of manufacturing executives, 44% of 286 companies polled expected more risks than opportunities in 2016, with large manufacturers the most pessimistic.
The snapshot of industry’s faltering confidence follows Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement last week that a “dangerous cocktail” of economic risks lies ahead.
But the mood doesn’t have to be ‘glass half full’. More positive manufacturers are already planning for growth and using the opportunity to streamline their business and become more efficient.
Save in 2016: Take control of energy
One of the biggest overheads for industry, but one that’s relatively easy to reduce with the right approach, is the cost of energy and how you buy it.
Richard Warren, Senior Energy and Environment Policy Adviser at EEF, says companies can reduce their energy bills in two ways: use less and pay less for what they use by tackling energy efficiency and improving procurement.
“Developing and implementing an energy management system is a key step to achieving energy efficiency,” he says. “It enables you to understand your energy consumption and then systematically identify the best and most cost-effective ways to reduce it.
“These can range from the simple – like lighting and variable speed drives – where payback periods can often be less than a year, through to the more sophisticated – such as voltage optimisation or combined heat and power, where payback can be more than four years.”
Save In 2016: Buy Right And At The Right Time
Richard adds that to do this, accurate consumption data is needed, which may mean upgrading your metering: “Thankfully, this is highly cost-effective and alone can pay back within less than three months,” he says.
“Improving energy procurement is a straightforward and cheap way of reducing your energy bills. Timing can be critical. Negotiating your contract at the correct time could save you significant sums; wholesale prices can fluctuate as much as 50% during a year. Negotiate a new contract when the price is right, not simply when your current contract is coming to an end.”
“Locking into a fixed price for the next two or three years provides certainty and reduces risk. But your supplier will charge you a premium for this and you’ll also miss out on any wholesale price reductions. With energy prices likely to continue heading south in 2016, opting for a more flexible contract could save you money.”
Pledge to save 20% this year
Research by Utilitywise chimes with Richard’s analysis. Their Utility Management Plan (UMP) can help reduce companies’ energy and water consumption by 20% by embracing the ‘use less, pay less’ approach he mentions.
UMP is a one-stop solution that will alleviate the symptoms of an economic hangover for manufacturers. It covers everything from fitting an AMR meter to ensure your supplier is accurately measuring energy consumption to sending a qualified assessor to your premises to recommend efficiencies you can make.
There are also ways that manufacturers can start to make savings now. On their top business energy-saving tips page they list 12 simple steps businesses can take to help reduce energy consumption.
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”