Integrating smart manufacturing and strategic energy management programs

Panel: 1. Policies and programmes to drive transformation

This is a peer-reviewed paper.

Author:
Ethan Rogers, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), USA

Abstract

Strategic Energy Management (SEM) programs help companies implement continuous improvement programs that systematically address energy usage. In North America, SEM programs have become the platform upon which large customers are engaged and directed to other assistance programs.

Several SEM programs include Energy Information Management Systems (EMIS) software packages that automate the collection and analysis of energy data. EMIS can be a first step to implementation of smart manufacturing, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) to automate the collection, analysis, contextualization, and dissemination of production information for optimizing the management and operation of an enterprise. The US Department of Energy predicts that smart manufacturing (also known as Industrie 4.0) will be one of the most significant technologies to affect manufacturing productivity and energy use in the next decade. DOE also noted that many manufacturers are inadequately prepared to adopt and implement smart manufacturing.

Many administrators of energy efficiency programs are finding that SEM and SM type programs are compatible and optimization in the manufacturing sector often requires investments in both. Program administrators and implementers are increasing the impacts of their programs by taking a holistic approach to engaging industrial customers and providing a portfolio of services and incentives. Researchers are helping by developing and demonstrating technologies that enable the automated collection, analysis, and exchange of energy savings resulting from continuous improvement activities. Energy markets are evolving and some now treat energy efficiency as a resource that regional transmission organizations can use in short- and long-term electric grid load management. Smart manufacturing and other ICTs are aiding this by simplifying the collection, analysis, and sharing of energy savings data. This introduction of technology into utility-customer interactions is helping to overcome the market’s historical failure at fully valuing energy efficiency.

Achieving even greater energy savings from large manufacturing customers will require more companies to invest in energy efficiency practices such as SEM and technologies such as smart manufacturing. Policy makers have an opportunity to facilitate more investment in the private sector by supporting research, workforce development programs, deployment of smart manufacturing technologies, and development of energy markets that value energy savings as a resource. However, it would be an incomplete solution to address them separately. There are overlapping components of these issues that only a holistic approach can address and result in maximum energy savings.

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