Energy – The Hidden Waste

Photo by Sam Forson from Pexels

No company likes waste, in fact many companies implement systems to actively try and eliminate waste such as Lean 5S and Six Sigma. The problem is – these systems are designed for reducing time and process waste and do not directly address company energy waste. Surprisingly, the most efficient ‘Lean’ manufacturing or logistics company can still be running hugely inefficient when it comes to its energy usage. Energy can easily become a forgotten and ‘hidden’ waste. 

We’ve probably all seen companies with lights left on all night or doors wedged open in the middle of winter. Its not surprising two of the biggest factors for company energy wastage are lighting and heating

Lighting

To complete tasks safely and efficiently all work areas should be suitably illuminated, so lighting requirements should be planned and organised carefully. When planning or reviewing company lighting requirements one important question should be ‘do we have energy efficient lighting?’ 

The advancement in light emitting diode (LED) technology has produced an energy efficient and reliable alternative to traditional incandescent lighting. The simple process of upgrading company lights and fluorescent tubes to LED equivalents can deliver huge energy savings plus an increased life span per unit. This increased life span reduces maintenance time and the additional costs involved.

Does your company need the wholesite illuminated the wholetime? Many company’s lights are turned on in the morning and stay on all day long. For large manufacturing or warehouse facilities this can equal thousands of square feet in floor space – does it allneed to be lit allday long? Lighting areas, which are not occupied, is a pure waste of electricity and should be avoided wherever possible.

Internal areas that are used infrequently such as toilets, canteens, archive and storerooms do not need to be lit if they are not occupied. Simply replacing light switches with timer switches or installing activity sensors can deliver an immediate energy saving in these areas. External areas, such as passageways, car parks or loading bays, can be lit efficiently by installing sensor floodlights, such as passive infrared (PIR) LED floodlights. These will only be activated if a person or vehicle is within range of the sensor. If outside areas do need to be illuminated continuously for security or safety, ensure a photocell or light sensor is fitted. This will automate their activation as darkness falls and avoid lights being left on during daylight hours. 

Heating

The space heating of large company buildings, such as factories and warehouses, using standard gas and electricity can be a costly use of fossil fuel. There are many ways to utilise renewable heat sources within company buildings yet most are not yet widely known. In fact, the UK the 2018, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Energy and Climate Change Public Attitude Tracking Survey found that 48% of respondents had never heard of renewable heat!

Renewable heat is the application of a renewable energy sources to generate heat rather than relying on typical fossil fuels. For example, by installing electricity producing solar panels or wind turbines your business can help reduce it reliance on fossil fuels. Other renewable heat systems include: 

  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Geothermal heating 
  • Heat transfer and recovery systems

Most of these renewable systems can be installed to work in conjunction with the existing system. They may not totally eliminate your fossil fuel usage – but they will reduce it. 

Reducing heat loss and retaining heat within the building is just as important as the heating system itself. Up to 25% of heat loss can occur through the roof and a further 25% through doors and windows. Not all energy saving solutions need to be high-tech; some of the most practical are the simplest. One step to help prevent heat-loss is by adding additional building insulation and door self-closing mechanisms. Large warehouses with high roof spaces can benefit with the installation and use of destratification fans. Destratification fans aid in the re-circulation of high-level hot air by directing it downward to where it is needed. Warehouse roller doors can also be fitted with PVC curtains to help prevent unwanted heat loss. These are more commonly seen installed within freezer rooms or refrigerated warehouses but work just as well at keeping heat in as well as out. 

With a continued focus on energy efficiency by utilising technology and renewable sources, not only can your company reduce energy waste, but also its reliance on fossil fuels.

Published by A Kennedy

An award winning, UK based, International Logistics Manager for a multinational tool company. Over 25 years experience in international logistics and supply chain management. Elected ‘Chartered Status’ by the CILT and ‘Expert Status’ by the IoSCM.

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