Energy intensive sectors, such as the manufacturing industry, may need to take a different approach to energy if they’re looking to boost their green credentials and lower their energy bills.
Pressures Facing the Manufacturing Industry and its Energy Usage
Pressures on the UK manufacturing industry are intense, with construction output falling dramatically. In an unsure political climate, many businesses face skills shortages, as well as intense competition from overseas firms who pay less for their energy. This, coupled with constantly evolving environmental regulations means that the industry needs to hit back.
Manufacturing businesses can help to overcome these challenges, save money and boost their profits and competitiveness by taking control of utilities. As an energy intensive sector, energy is often one of a manufacturing business’s largest overheads (especially if that business deals with iron and steel). As a result, with correct planning and effective management, businesses can lower their energy bills and boost their green credentials too.
How Can Manufacturers Achieve Energy Savings and Reduce Carbon Emissions?
Manufacturers must participate in initiatives such as climate change agreements (CCAs), showing that they can be flexible and proactive.
Speaking on the issue, Tony Hitchens from Utilitywise 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.”
Are Manufacturers Ready to Make the Shift?
According to recent research conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), 90% of firms questioned wanted to be energy efficient, with 86% of firms saying that they see the benefits of this.
However, although the appetite is clearly apparent from businesses, there does seem to be a concern that they’re not ready to actually physically make that change. For example, many said that they did not feel compelled to make the change because they have either a lack of cash, motivation or even information. In addition, only a fifth said their energy supplier offered energy efficiency advice.
How Can They Make the Shift?
However, making the shift can be easy and can often be made independently. For example, businesses could start tracking and monitoring water and electricity usage at each site, as well as making the following changes:
• 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
The key to greater energy efficiency and improved green credentials can often be workforce engagement. The Carbon Trust now estimates that up to 20% of the energy used to light a site could be saved by simple actions such as opening blinds, cleaning windows and turning off lights.
What’s the Impact of Making these Changes?
By lowering utility costs and improving their green credentials, manufacturing companies will be able to make their business fitter, leaner and stronger, which will help them to withstand some of the challenges mentioned at the outset of this article.
Overall, even the smallest changes are worth making, as it allows business leaders to save money for investments in technologies that will keep them ahead of the competition, all while leaving them with more time to focus on their business.