Five simple tips for reducing OPEX at your manufacturing site

April 3, 2020

Efficiently operating large manufacturing sites is challenging, particularly on sites where profitability is tied to cost per item made. To facilitate high profit margins, these sites must operate with the lowest possible operational and production costs, with little to no disruption to product quality and output.  

When faced with unforeseen disruptions such as COVID-19, the manufacturing challenge becomes even greater. Business continuity needs to be carefully balanced with more stringent health and safety measures, without impacting too much on production so as to limit any potential large losses.

In both scenarios, reducing site operational costs is vitally important. Fortunately, by optimising large onsite mechanical and electrical equipment for peak performance, manufacturing sites can achieve this quickly and easily.

Identify energy inefficiencies within existing HVAC plant and equipment

The plant room—an often overlooked and misunderstood section of a building that contains expensive heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment—presents many opportunities to cut costs and improve site efficiency, and these opportunities can be unlocked with the help of building analytics.

Building analytics aligns with the International Energy Agency’s emphasis on energy efficiency being the “first fuel”, by delivering demand side energy reduction on large HVAC plant and equipment. It does so by analysing equipment performance data in real-time to identify opportunities to optimise asset performance and eliminate waste.

Under current circumstances, where there may be less people working on site and a higher focus on health and safety, other techniques can help to reduce costs even further. For example, in lower foot traffic areas such as site offices, canteens and non-core areas, simple steps such as increasing the flow of fresh air (and reducing recirculated air), widening deadbands and modifying set points will ensure high indoor air quality for remaining onsite personnel, without compromising health and safety. By closing off areas of your facility that are not in use or are not critical to operations, you can turn down or shut down HVAC operations in those areas entirely to slash your energy costs even further.

Related: How ISO50001 and building analytics align

Continuously monitor your HVAC equipment to prevent downtime

HVAC issues can impact productivity by causing unplanned equipment downtime. In times like these, no one can afford to have breakdowns given the limited resources available for rectification works. Therefore it is even more vital to be able to anticipate and prevent equipment faults and failures.

Building analytics can help reduce the burden of HVAC management for onsite teams by immediately flagging high priority. These could be compressor failures, inadequate outside air rates and air changes, or poor temperature and humidity control in validated areas.

It also enables you to prioritise and preserve services to critical areas such as production floors and validated areas.

Prioritise contractor activities onsite and reduce contractor call-outs

Manufacturing sites rely on facility engineers, BMS engineers and mechanical and electrical contractors to maintain equipment functionality. Yet many sites find it difficult to track and improve contractor performance.

Building analytics will detect and diagnose the root-cause of faults then escalate and triage the ones that matter. This facilitates a more transparent and collaborative relationship between onsite teams and contractors to resolve issues quicker.

The close-out time frame for resolving open actions can be tracked on building analytics platforms such as PEAK and reported against the KPIs in service level agreement.

Base capital expenditure projects on data, not time-based upgrades

Without the right HVAC data or technical expertise, it's difficult to understand and verify third party recommendations about faults and breakdowns. Often sites will resort to costly large capital investments and equipment upgrades as a quick fix solution, yet the return on investment period could be 15 years or longer.

Plant room decisions are too important to be left in the hands of vendors, contractors and equipment manufacturers who are generally incentivised to sell more product. Building analytics delivers an unbiased and accurate approach to improving equipment performance by detecting the root cause of issues. Sometimes a simple part replacement will do the trick, thereby increasing asset life cycle and minimising capital expenditure.

The ability to quickly and accurately pinpoint and fix equipment problems, while proactively identifying improvements—through continuous monitoring and building analytics—is a fundamental part of operating equipment efficiently to maximise its value across the lifetime of a large facility.

With an already limited CAPEX budget, sites that rely on building analytics to make smarter CAPEX decisions can spend less of their budget on fixing and replacing non-core equipment and systems and allocate it to upgrades of critical production equipment instead.

Seek advice from experts in the field

CIM provides a low-risk, low-cost strategy to lift site performance quickly and easily by making smarter use of existing data.

Our fast to deploy software as a service—the PEAK platform—applies “Best in Class” root-cause detection and analysis across your equipment data to unlock operational and energy cost savings within six to eight weeks. For one small, no lock-in monthly fee, PEAK quickly optimises the efficiency of your HVAC systems then continuously monitors and verifies these savings for you over the long term.

Our highly skilled technical engineering team provides dedicated, around-the-clock support for each site, to help you quickly resolve faults or inefficiencies and streamline your maintenance practices. And we can do it all remotely too—we are set up that way already.

Get a demo today and see how we can help improve your operational efficiency and achieve your sustainability goals.

CIM Team
April 3, 2020