Whether it’s product quality, reducing production downtime or helping your staff work better, energy efficiency improvements to equipment and processes can often boost your overall productivity, too. Here are just a few ways energy efficiency translates into a better business proposition – and cost savings beyond the electricity bill.
Using less energy often means your equipment doesn’t have to work as hard, which reduces overall wear and tear. Equipment will last longer, so you can get more out of your capital investments before you need to replace them.
For example, adding controls to equipment can vastly reduce their “on” times so the equipment is only used when it is needed. Chesswood Arena in Toronto did just this by adding controls to the refrigeration pumps it uses to maintain ice surfaces. Now, the equipment is only operated when conditions require it, taking it from running 24 hours a day to just 12 to 16 hours a day. The ice can still be at its coldest for game time, but can be maintained at a warmer temperature during off-hours.
It’s simple. Less wear and tear means less maintenance, and that means less downtime. This is especially true for motor-driven pumps and equipment. “In that case, efficiency directly relates to reliability,” says energy consultant Stephen Dixon.
He points to one example of a municipality that suffered a refrigeration failure at its local arena because of an aging compressor that was operating beyond its service life – ahead of a major international hockey tournament. “New equipment would have been significantly more efficient and would be far less likely to fail a week before such an important event,” Dixon says.
Even energy-efficient LED lighting can reduce downtime. Traditional lighting systems often take time to warm up before production can begin. Lear Corporation’s facility in Ajax switched out its T8 fluorescents to LEDs with great results. “The new bulbs are great because they turn on instantly,” says Luke Carson, the facility’s engineering manager. “Before, any time we needed to restart the plant, we’d have to wait for the lights to warm up for five to 10 minutes. That was a frustrating and costly delay to our operation. But now the lights turn on instantly, with no delay.”
At Ropak Packaging in Oakville, the problem of slow ramp-up times for lighting was particularly acute. Most of the facility was lit by inefficient and high-cost lights that were never turned off, since they took too long to come back on. “We were basically waiting in the dark for them to start back up again and get back to work, so we just started leaving them on,” says Don DiFlorio, a project manager at Ropak.
Upgrading lighting to longer-lasting LEDs also means staff can spend less time on maintenance.
Whenever you do need to upgrade equipment, be sure to choose the most energy-efficient model possible, and you’ll find that planned and unplanned maintenance times will vastly improve.
If your employees are more comfortable, they’ll be more productive – and whether it’s through improving air circulation, lighting or temperature, energy-saving improvements can make a difference to comfort levels, too.
“We upgraded the building HVAC and lighting systems thinking it would help manage our consumption, and it did,” says Scott Doyle, an energy coordinator who worked to upgrade 3M’s London facility. “But we also found that with those upgrades, employee comfort levels improved significantly. Productivity goes hand in hand with energy efficiency.”
Energy-efficient equipment is also often quieter, since it uses less energy to run. And less noise allows employees to concentrate more. Better lighting, on the other hand, can improve accuracy and quality control.
LEGACY, a logistics solutions provider, installed new lights at its facility in Caledon and saw immediate results. “One of the advantages is the great lighting environment compared to metal halides, which tend to dim and flicker,” says Rob Bowers, a business analyst at LEGACY. “These new lights have really increased our ability to see a lot better throughout the building.”
Whatever your organization’s priorities, factoring energy efficiency into your budget and processes is sure to lead to results beyond cost savings alone. There’s no better time to start than now.