3M Dials Up Energy Efficiency

May 15, 2012
Corporate energy manager Steven Schultz shares insights on the company's energy-efficiency success.

Global conglomerate 3M Co. (IW 500/41) recently won its eighth consecutive Energy Star Sustained Excellence award for achievements in energy management. The St. Paul, Minn.-based manufacturer also has already surpassed a not-inconsiderable 10-year energy goal it set for itself: to achieve a 25% improvement in energy efficiency from 2005 to 2015. With that goal now in its rear window, 3M (IW 500/41) has challenged itself to an additional 15% improvement.

In short, 3M knows energy and how to manage it efficiently -- not surprising given that its energy management program dates back to 1973. Today, energy use and costs are tracked and managed at more than 240 locations worldwide.

Steven C. Schultz, 3M's corporate energy manager, recently shared energy insights with IndustryWeek.

IW: How much better can your energy-efficiency efforts get?

"The price of energy fluctuates quite a bit, and you really don't have a lot of control over it, but the amount of energy that's used at the facility, in terms of Btus or kilowatt hours, is something that can be controlled."
-- Steven Schultz

Schultz: We've been able to make some pretty significant improvements, and I think those improvements have continued to embolden us to work toward more. There are always more technologies being made available.

We're also now looking at the other end of the pipe where the energy is used in the manufacturing processes to get the people operating the manufacturing equipment to be more aware of the decisions they're making and the actions they're taking to use that efficiently.

IW: How is your energy-management program structured?

Schultz: The structure is the corporate leadership group, which is surprisingly small; an empowered energy champion at each of the facilities that are of significant size; and then an energy team at each of those sites led by the energy champion. We do a great deal of communication from the corporate level about the effort to all of our locations, and we track energy use at all of them globally.

[The corporate leadership group] reports to the senior vice president of corporate supply chain operations, who reports to the CEO.

I create quarterly progress reports that are sent to the CEO and the CEO's direct reports, showing whether the corporation is on track [to meet energy-efficiency goals] and also whether each of the six businesses within the company are on track, in a way holding the business leaders accountable for delivering some results. Then each of the subgroups within the businesses are also held accountable as well as the plants themselves.

IW: How does the corporate leadership group keep its globally dispersed employees and energy teams motivated?

Schultz: The quarterly progress report to executive management is a motivator. On the more positive side of motivation, we hold monthly energy web conferences. We also have a neat awards program. If a plant achieves its energy goal at the end of the year, it can qualify for an award from the energy management group here. We have several levels of awards, and the highest level includes a team dinner. They get to select the restaurant, and they get to select a guest to bring along with them. I usually attend and oftentimes another executive from our organization will accompany me. And we'll give out certificates to the energy team members at the dinner. This year we have 13 locations around the world that qualify for that level of award.

We have various levels of awards. The criteria become more difficult to get the highest level award.

IW: What is the best piece of advice you could give a manufacturer embarking on an energy-management strategy?

Schultz: Measure results and what you're able to achieve using a realistic methodology. A real unfortunate thing would be to look at your energy bill in terms of dollars at the end of every month and determine that your energy program hasn't done any good. The price of energy fluctuates quite a bit, and you really don't have a lot of control over it, but the amount of energy that's used at the facility, in terms of Btus or kilowatt hours, is something that can be controlled.

Read More on Energy Efficiency:

Eastman Chemical's Energy Efficiency Makeover

Steps Industry Can Take to Reduce Energy Consumption

About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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