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Taking control of utilities helps manufacturers roll with the punches



A different approach to energy and water consumption could help manufacturers block and evade the combination of punches coming at them this year from forces they can’t control.

UK manufacturers have taken many body blows in the past, but the pressures today are intense. At home, the challenges include skills shortages and political uncertainty over Britain’s possible exit from Europe. On top of this, there’s global competition from overseas firms who pay less for their energy and the demands of keeping pace with environmental and other regulations.

With manufacturing falling around 0.4% from Quarter 1 (Oct to Dec) 2015 to Quarter 4 (Jan to Mar) this year, it’s vital for the UK economy that industry hits back.

One way manufacturers can roll with the punches is to save money and boost profits and competitiveness by taking control of utilities.

Manufacturing Energy Solutions Utilitywise

Energy is one of the biggest overheads, particularly for those in energy intensive sectors like iron and steel, but it’s a complicated environment requiring good management and planning to meet manufacturers’ energy and water efficiency goals.

At the same time, there are more and more environmental regulations to comply with and pay for. But by participating in initiatives such as climate change agreements (CCAs) manufacturers can achieve energy savings as well as reduced carbon emissions.

Tony Hitchens from Utilitywise, a leader in the utilities field, said: “When companies are able to adapt, they can lessen the force of these pressures. For that, they need expert advice and a strategic energy management plan to give them a joined-up approach to energy and water consumption. This enables them to trim costs, become more efficient and reduce wastage, which could be the difference between profit and loss.”

Manufacturers have the will to make changes, according to a briefing by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) but don’t feel empowered to do so because of lack of cash, motivation or information. Nearly 90 per cent of firms questioned wanted to be energy efficient and 86 per cent saw the benefits, but only a fifth said their energy supplier offered energy efficiency advice.

Although the energy market is complex, requiring in-depth knowledge in-house or from external consultants for the best outcome, there are energy efficiencies that manufacturers can achieve relatively easily and independently, with little intervention from outside.

A formal process could be introduced to track and monitor electricity and water usage at each site, for example, or they could introduce good housekeeping and simple investments like these for an immediate impact:

– Repairing cracked windows

– Maintaining furnaces and boilers

– Insulating roofs and walls

– Switching off compressors over weekends

– Installing controls that turn off energy automatically

– Collecting and recycling rainwater

– Turning off fridges when empty

– Fitting a variable speed drive to motors.

Getting the workforce engaged in improvements can pack an unexpected punch. The Carbon Trust estimates that 20 per cent of the energy used to light a site could be saved by simple measures such as encouraging staff to turn off lights when not needed, keeping windows cleaned, opening blinds in daylight hours and reviewing where people are located.

Staff engagement is also vital if manufacturers decide to move manufacturing from times when the National Grid charges more for energy use to cheaper slots. Depending on a manufacturer’s power supply agreement, shifting consumption to different hours of the day can have a large impact on its power bill. But if it affects the workforce, for example by changing tea breaks to different times, people need to know why!

Another way manufacturers can make savings is in procurement – getting the best deal from an energy supplier and ensuring that electricity and gas bills are correct. Energy experts can also check that everything’s being done under carbon change agreements (CCAs) to meet energy efficiency targets and reduce the climate change levy (CCL).

There are also savings to be made by choosing the right contract – fixed price, semi flexible or flexible – at the right time.

Richard Warren, senior energy and environment policy adviser at manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said: “Negotiating your contract at the correct time could save significant sums; wholesale prices can fluctuate as much as 50 per cent during a year. Negotiate a new contract when the price is right, not simply when your current contract is coming to an end.”

Specialists in energy can help industry to make smart decisions in other complex areas of procurement. For example, which contract to choose when companies with 05 to 08 profile class meters reconfigure them to half-hourly (HH) settlement meters next year to meet OFGEM change P272.

When companies change to these meters in April 2017, energy suppliers will offer either a pass-through or all-inclusive contract when they switch. Firms will be billed for exactly what they use but because they can’t manage loads at peak demand it may mean they’re charged more at peak times. To decide which option is best, and the least costly, manufacturers need to understand how they use utilities – and that means monitoring energy and water consumption.

Energy and water data helps to build an intelligent overall picture of consumption, while an energy management plan helps firms understand what they’re using and identify the best ways to reduce consumption and save money.

utilitywise download

A web-based utility reporting platform that takes data on water, gas and electricity and creates customisable reports and dashboards allows businesses to see what’s happening with utility consumption and make informed decisions that result in savings.

All of these measures need to be taken as part of an interconnected strategy, which innovations like the Internet of Things (IoT) can help to provide.

“IoT is being explored by industry because it connects digital sensors in key locations in manufacturing sites with people using smartphones and tablets so the machinery in a plant and other equipment talks to each other in a joined up, data-driven way,” said Tony Hitchens.

At the dawn of a new interconnected world, manufacturers will have plenty of opportunities to save on utilities – making them fitter, leaner and stronger to withstand future challenges.

“But even the smallest effort to manage utilities better is always worth doing,” added Tony. “It frees up time to concentrate on business, saves money for investment in the technology needed to keep pace with the competition, and helps to comply with legislation.”

Download the comprehensive manufacturer energy solutions white paper here.



New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035



renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart /

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.


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How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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