If you've enjoyed an ice-cold sparkling water or summer drink lately, you likely have the manufacturing industry to thank. Specifically, the beverage industry and the hundreds of bottling facilities around the world (Coca Cola alone has 225 independent bottling facilities). The modern food and beverage industry is one of the largest consumers of industrial energy, and studies predict that it will continue to use at least 10% of the industrial energy in the world (Source). Because of the rapid growth of this industry and the rising costs due to inflation, many companies are looking to improve efficiency and cut energy usage and costs. Here are six important tips for bottling facilities:
Improve refrigeration and temperature
Many food and beverage distributors have cold storage or temperature regulated portions of their buildings. These areas use a large amount of energy, and some studies show that amount is up to 80% of total energy used. Energy Trust recommends taking these steps to improve your cold storage usage:
- Repair malfunctioning freezer doors and strip curtains to decrease infiltration.
- Clean condenser surfaces to improve the efficiency of heat transfer.
- Use localized programmable logic controllers to continuously adjust individual components of the refrigeration system for maximum efficiency (Source).
Monitor energy usage and identify worn-down machines
There are new technologies available to industrial facilities that can monitor usage in real time. These types of technology pieces can help managers and supervisors make decisions based on usage, and spot areas of improvement more quickly. One example is the use of a power meter. Industrial grade power meters are designed to monitor usage of things like machinery, appliances, and buildings and can also help identify when a machinery piece is wearing down. There are revenue grade models of industrial power meters, which are used in apartment buildings where tenants pay their own power bills but manufacturing plants typically use meters to respond proactively to reduce costs. The newest models of industrial grade meters also offer artificial intelligence-based predictions to help guide decisions.
Identify leaks in air compressors and hoses
This goes hand-in-hand with the idea of monitoring machinery. By using modern technology to quickly see areas where energy is being used in higher amounts, it is easier to see where leaks or breaks might be happening. A 2018 study done in India found that one of the causes for wasted energy was leaks and pressure drops in compressed air systems. Often, leaks are not identified quickly enough, and can waste energy and create defective bottles that are not properly sealed due to pressure drop. This study found that two things were effective in preventing this:
- Installing a secondary air receiver: This can be easily done in most facilities, without changing much of the existing framework. This can reduce the energy loss by around 18% in traditional compressor systems.
- Installing sensors that alert supervisors to any low pressure time periods. This can prevent long periods of low pressure, and reduce the number of defective products made.
Maximize lighting efficiency
It might sound surprising, but lighting is one of the highest utility costs for buildings that house beverage bottling companies. When researching how to make your own lighting more efficient, you'll want to start with the code of compliance for your business lighting. These are the bare minimum strategies that can be used to save your company money, but they also ensure compliance with the latest energy codes (these vary by state). Then, you'll want to tackle two aspects: user-centric changes, and demand response. User-centric includes taking steps like allowing employees the ability to adjust their lighting to be more comfortable (reducing glare and eye strain), and helps them feel more invested in the cause. Demand response can include steps like reducing loads during peak time periods to reduce HVAC consumption. Together, these two things can help complement overall code compliance and can reduce the electric bill by up to 30%.
Make the switch to motors that reduce power waste
One of the main reasons that beverage bottling requires so much energy is that they also use so many different types of energy. For example, pasteurizers use thermal energy, while bottling machines and palletizers use compressed air. This means that the step that will make the highest impact is to replace or to switch your existing framework to industrial motors that achieve a high power factor. Maxeff motors are able to tolerate unlimited restarts without idling, and are ideal for high needs industries like the beverage bottling industry. A 2021 study conducted by the Sustainability Journal showed that starting and stopping the industrial motors in bottling facilities creates peak demand. Because peak demand time periods cost companies more and are penalized by power companies, reducing them helps reduce cost.
Create a culture that values resourcefulness and efficiency
Changes that affect a company require that there are many people invested in the positive changes. Creating safe spaces where employees can learn, dialogue, brainstorm, and bring new ideas to the table is important, and is based in education. Training sessions can be a way to educate key players in how making appropriate changes can save the company money and be beneficial for everyone. Keep in mind that not everyone may be on board with large-scale and aggressive changes, so remember to set a good example from the leadership on down, and provide specifics on what's expected from all employees. The Harvard Business Review recommends these tips, when trying to implement change:
- Use understandable terms and allow time for feedback
- Empower employees with knowledge so they can lead their own teams
- Acknowledge your own blind spots and be receptive to resistance
- Reward creativity and new ways of thinking
A 2019 study from the Beverage Industry Environmental Roundtable showed that 63% of the facilities they surveyed have reduced their energy usage ratio between the years of 2013 and 2017. They noted that the positive results of their most recent study was the result of multi-faceted efforts of beverage companies to apply new knowledge and take a proactive approach. Here at Adventech, we take a similar approach: we believe that progress and change happen when energy usage is viewed as a collective issue that we can all take steps to improve. If you and your company are ready to move forward with positive change, please reach out to us today and speak to our expert team about how to get started.