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Think your energy bill is high? Try a factory!

December 14, 2010 - 2 Comments

Energy cost and availability show up in every day conversations. What was your electricity bill last month? Mine was about $180. That pays for my lights, my TV’s, my stereo, my refrigeration, and probably some things I don’t know about. Maybe even timers to turn things on and off. But I know that some of my neighbors always ask what my bill was and then compare it to theirs. And given my Christmas lighting, likely my bill will be higher than theirs!

But in terms of energy consumption, I am just a tiny pea. Think about what our manufacturing plants use every day. They need to start up a process, they need to heat, refrigerate, do something to make it a product, transport, do what they do best, all to make a product we can go to a retailer and buy. And sometimes that product was built a continent away from us and then it needed to be shipped to a Distribution Center, so it could end up on the shelf in front of me.

So lets talk for a bit about energy and manufacturing plants. Many estimates are that manufacturing plants consume better than 50% of the power that is produced today. Just as we, consumers, are presented with offers from our utility company to “time sequence” our usage, manufacturing companies get more. Doesn’t it make sense for them to get all the information they can?

The utility company has a lot of demand data. That is why they can provide incentives to us, and by us I mean us the consumers and us the manufacturers. They have that data. Some of it is history but a lot of it is from the network.

In manufacturing, we have a lot of data in islands. A Converged PlantWide Ethernet solution allows us to integrate the data from the plant into our business system. So we can remain profitable.

It is critical that we start to get the data from the machines and plants. You cannot control what you don’t know. So let’s start to measure. Cisco’s new Industrial Energy Management Solution can help. OK?

That’s how I see it from my consumer side. I want you manufacturers to be profitable, but give me the best product when I want it. Happy Christmas to all!

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  1. Thanks Pierre. Yes, We agree. Products like EnergyWise have already enabled commercial buildings to see huge savings in energy costs. We are looking to extend that into the factory where we can help reduce costs via standard IP enabled devices. Stay tuned!

  2. Great post, Mark! Energy efficiency is clearly on the top of the agenda these days. Energy management in buildings / real estate is already fine-tuned, competition is fierce, and incremental savings are difficult to obtain. Energy-intensive processes like smeltering have been optimised for some time now. However, there is a large potential for mid-sized industries. This is not always known, but these industries have an important role to play in demand response. They can switch to alternate sources of energy when the TOU of electricity is high. Demand aggregation on a set of factories is also gaining traction and companies like Comverge ( build their business case around this. The potential for savings is higher than in our homes, even if demand response is implemented in homes.