Energy costs are a significant expenditure for any manufacturer, but for process industries they can be even more so. Therefore, acting on opportunities to drive down energy use presents big opportunities both for cost savings as well as providing an environmental benefit.
Minneapolis-based food company General Mills, for example, estimates that the installation of energy meters on several pieces of equipment at its Covington, Ga., plant led to annual savings of greater than $600,000 -- one of several achievements the manufacturer outlines in its 2011 corporate social responsibility report.
Of course, it wasn' t the meters but the data they revealed that led to the energy savings. General Mills purchased and installed steam, natural gas and electric power monitors on major industrial units at the Covington plant that it anticipated were the major energy consumers at that facility.
Some of the findings were surprising. "Fundamentally, we did not realize that 35% of all the energy consumed across the site was in our dryer unit operations," explained a General Mills spokesperson. "This directed our resources to uncover a 20% reduction in energy usage in that area."
The food manufacturer is now actively working to transfer that knowledge across the company.