By Ted Jones, Principal Program Mgr., Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE)
To meet corporate sustainability goals and boost the bottom line, many managers are being asked to reduce operating costs through improved energy efficiency. Because they represent roughly 66% of the electricity used in a typical factory, electric motors and motor-driven equipment are a good place to start. Whether your operations are large or small, in a single location or over multiple sites, paying attention to motor efficiency and putting sound motor-management policies in place can pay off. Consider the following examples from two vastly different enterprises.
Chemical giant BASF Corporation uses significant numbers of electric motors in its plants. Its global commitment to sustainability and continued success in energy management led to the establishment of policies for managing the purchase and repair of motors throughout more than 100 BASF production facilities in North America—and a goal to reduce motor operating costs by 3% to 5%. The company’s Motor Management Guideline supports management of its NEMA-frame motor population. BASF also developed a technical reference manual for use by its engineering staff, as well as a brochure communicating the company’s motor-management message to all plant personnel.
BASF’s Energy Optimization Manager Tom Theising, who spearheaded this effort in 1998, said it required cooperation from several sites and corporate engineering, purchasing and energy-management departments. Originally designed for the company’s North American plants, the Motor Management Guideline has since been included in BASF’s Global Handbook: Best Practices in Energy Efficiency. For maximum effectiveness in this type of multi-site program, Theising stressed, all production sites must agree with and implement it. (See his presentation to the MDM campaign here.)
Consolidated Container Co. LLC (Consolidated), a privately held business based in Minneapolis, MN, distributes, recycles and reconditions metal containers. Brothers Phillip and William Dworsky purchased the company in 2004 vowing to make “green” investments. Consolidated had 50 employees that year. It now has more than 100, with a division in Houston and a distribution office in Kansas City. The company was spending approximately $21,000 per month on electricity. To target the most attractive energy-efficiency projects, it enlisted support from its local utility, Xcel Energy, and a local consultant. After upgrading the plant’s lighting, the Dworskys replaced two motors: a 20 hp unit used to run a vacuum pump and a 40 hp unit for a machine used to clean steel drums (both more than 10 years old). Upgrading to NEMA Premium motors at cost of approximately $7500 (not including incentives from Xcel) resulted in total energy savings of 7840 kWh. Consolidated continues to monitor its older motors for opportunities to make them more energy efficient.
According to the Dworsky brothers, the rebates from Xcel are a bonus. The real savings come with their monthly energy statements, which remind them of how the little things can add up. Consolidated also believes in continuous energy improvement. There’s a perpetual need, the Dworskys explained, “to consistently review what energy savings opportunities are available as we make investments in newer technologies.” (Find this MDM case study here.)
If managing motors can pay off for BASF and Consolidated, isn’t it worth exploring in your organization? The Motor Decisions Matter program (www.motors.org) has a toolbox of tools and resources to help you get started, including a Motor Efficiency Guidebook, a Motor Planning Kit and a wealth of information on the success of others. Why wait? MT&AP