Rarely do industrial facility energy efficiency managers have the sort of capital project budget that allows them to upgrade all of the poor performing equipment in their facility’s systems in a reasonable time-frame. (Unfortunately, even the older industrial systems and equipment that consume lots of energy might be years away from replacement). If you don’t have the budget for capital upgrades, don’t despair, because there are invariably opportunities to improve the energy efficiency of the equipment you already have.
There is an art and science to this type of fine-tuning. The science is all about energy engineering and data analytics: acquiring the right data, establishing a baseline of normal operation, and then using predictive modeling to understand how much energy (and cost) can be saved when adjustments are made.
Changes to one piece of equipment or process can have impacts elsewhere, of course, so these adjustments must be considered within the context of the entire operation. This is where the “art” of fine-tuning comes into play, and it necessitates industry-specific expertise. It can take a deep knowledge of industrial systems, processes, and environments to optimize operation of an industrial system including many individual pieces of equipment.
Bringing together the science (of energy efficiency) with the art (of system- and industry-specific fine-tuning) can lead to significant cost savings at little or no capital cost.
Five Reasons Why You Should Consider a Tune-up to Increase Energy Efficiency
- It could save you money without much expense. In Cascade’s experience with tune-ups at hundreds of cold storage facilities, we typically identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency by 10-15%, simply through changes to operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures for existing equipment.
- Flexibility—you can get a top-to-bottom audit of your entire facility, or just focus on a specific component or system. When you have a 360° view of your facility’s energy performance, you can identify the systems and/or processes that consume the most energy and then prioritize what needs to be done first. You can also focus your O&M efforts and increase your chances for a strong ROI, one system or component at a time.
- A tune-up allows you to take a deep dive into the details that determine energy use. You’ll be able to compare actual operating parameters, the equipment manufacturers’ specifications, and industry accepted energy efficiency best practices. For example, one common area where efficiencies can be found is by looking at the performance of equipment under partial load conditions. In most industrial applications, major systems are designed to handle the maximum load they are likely to encounter. E.g. a refrigeration system may be designed to maintain freezing temperatures, even on the hottest day of the year. This means that on every other day of the year, the system will be operating at partial load. Identifying the proper set-points, cycling equipment, and sequencing start-up of multiple pumps, fans, and compressors are some of the elements a quality tune-up should employ to optimize systems for maximum energy efficiency.
- You can achieve results quickly. Changes to O&M procedures can happen right away. You don’t have to wait for capital approval, the purchasing process, new equipment lead-times, or plant shut-downs to install new equipment.
- Because achieving maximum efficiency isn’t just a one-time event. A tune-up can be just the tipping point needed to begin a continuous energy improvement program that can significantly increase your company’s ability to achieve cost savings and improvement over the long haul. A well-implemented energy management program will help shift the perspective of all stakeholders in your company, from top-tier management to operators and technicians, so that everyone begins to understand and view energy as a controllable cost
Michael Reunert is director of sales and marketing for Cascade Energy. If you’re considering a tune-up at an industrial cold storage facility, the question of where you begin may weigh heavily on your mind. Cascade Energy has created an eBook of fifty tune-up tips optimizing refrigeration system energy efficiency for evaporators, compressors, condensers, and control systems.