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Energy Saving Tips

Energy Saving Tips For Manufacturers

Energy costs are inevitable and relentlessly tick off every month. Reducing energy costs can have an immediate effect not only on your pocketbook, but on how much pollution is generated upstream.

Xomety X
By Team Xometry
 5 min read
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Energy costs are inevitable and relentlessly tick off every month. This can create the impression that energy costs are a fixed expense that cannot be realistically lessened. However, most factories’ energy expenditures can be reduced by implementing some basic energy-saving tips. Some of these cost almost nothing to implement while others require significant capital investment. The payback period on any energy optimization plan is finite and can be easily calculated to determine whether or not it will be financially viable. In addition to the financial benefits, consumers are beginning to expect companies to be more environmentally conscious when it comes to energy usage. Reducing energy costs can have an immediate effect not only on your pocketbook, but on how much pollution is generated upstream.

Temperature-Control Energy Saving Tips

Keeping a space cool during summer is not only important for employees — many types of machinery on the production line work most efficiently in a specific temperature range. Listed below are some temperature-related energy saving tips.

Insulation 

A properly insulated space is critical to ensure optimal temperature control. Insulation is a passive temperature control method due to the fact that it requires no input energy to maintain the temperature within a manufacturing plant. It limits the summer heat that can infiltrate cool spaces and slows heat loss during the winter. All walls and roof surfaces should be insulated for best results. 

Air Conditioning

Air conditioning systems like heat pumps are expensive options for large spaces like warehouses and factory floors. However, they are still the most effective way to control temperature, especially if the temperature is a critical metric for your specific manufacturing process. If not, enclosed spaces like offices can benefit from smaller and cheaper air conditioning units.

Fans 

If air conditioning units are too costly, strategically placed fans can optimize the natural airflow through a manufacturing plant. High-volume, low-speed fans are ideal for large open spaces, and ceiling fans can be used to improve airflow in smaller, localized areas.

Lighting Energy Saving Tips

Optimizing your lighting can help you conserve energy without expending much effort. The gains from these energy-saving tips may seem marginal at first but over the long term, they can compound and result in significant cost savings as the initial capital expenditure is low. 

LED Lighting 

Switching to more energy-efficient lighting is the first step in optimizing lighting-related energy costs. LEDs provide brighter light but consume less electricity than other light sources. They also produce less heat, which, in turn, reduces cooling requirements. LED light bulbs are more expensive upfront but last far longer than other options.

Automatic Lighting

Lighting is usually only needed when workers are present — keeping an empty factory floor lit is a wasted expense. Motion-activated lighting will ensure that light is only provided if someone enters the area. Outdoor lighting can also benefit from a day-night switch which will only turn on in predefined low-light conditions.

Programmed Lighting

Putting lights on timers is a good way to automate lighting and reduce energy wastage. Lights that automatically switch off at a certain time every day can eliminate the potential for a forgetful employee to leave things lit overnight or over the weekend.

Machinery Energy Saving Tips

Machinery is by far the largest consumer of energy in a factory and the biggest gains can be made here.

Energy-Efficient Equipment

If you need new machines, add energy use to the performance metrics used in the purchasing process. This is most effective with big energy users like CNC or welding machines but can also extend to general office appliances like fridges, printers, or kettles.

Maintenance

Poor maintenance regimes on production line machinery can result in increased energy consumption. A common example can be seen in air compressors. Over time, the air lines will begin to leak. This forces the compressor to run more often in order to maintain pressure. This can become a significant waste of energy.

General Energy Saving Tips

Listed below are some general energy saving tips.

Turn Off Unused Equipment 

This may seem like a no-brainer but many businesses will leave computers, printers, water heaters, and boilers on overnight or over the weekend. This can consume significant amounts of energy over the span of a year. Encourage employees to shut down unused equipment at the end of the day and put items like water heaters on smart controls.

Renewable Energy

Solar generators may seem like novelties for heavy manufacturing plants, but using solar can significantly offset energy costs over the long term. Solar panels have become cheaper over the last decade, so the payback period has shrunk to match. 

Off-Peak Rates

Most energy providers will charge a higher energy rate at specific times of the day. These mostly coincide with peak energy usage times. If possible, only run energy-hungry equipment at lower-rate times. 

Energy use in the summer can quickly bloat your energy bill. At the end of the day, this just reduces the company’s profitability. Taking the time to audit your energy use can save significant amounts of money in the long term and as shown in the energy saving tips above, some steps cost very little but can make notable differences in your monthly energy bill. Consider your expenditures carefully, and you may be pleasantly surprised by your opportunities for improvement.

Xomety X
Team Xometry
This article was written by various Xometry contributors. Xometry is a leading resource on manufacturing with CNC machining, sheet metal fabrication, 3D printing, injection molding, urethane casting, and more.