Five Steps to ensure you’re selecting Energy Solutions that drive the Best Value for your Business

press-DMAIC-environmental-regulations Does your business have an immediate need to meet environmental regulations to sustain continued operations?

Have you recognized that energy costs are increasing?  Are energy costs a significant part of your operating budget?  Are you experiencing recent utility outages that are having a significant impact on production?  Do you see an opportunity for significant market recognition and growth through more sustainable or energy efficient programs?  Are you conscious of your carbon footprint or the greenhouse gas emissions that your business generates?  If so, you are probably looking to establish or are already executing an Energy Management Program within your organization.  Here are five steps to ensure your Energy Management Program is prioritizing and investing in Energy Solutions that will drive the Best Value to your Business.

press-DMAIC-define-analyze-improve

DEFINE

Whatever the reason that caused your business to embark on an Energy Management Program, it is important to define key metrics that will drive the results needed to achieve your objectives.   Environmental regulations impacting your business have reduced so significantly that continued business operations will be dictated by the ability to achieve new emission limits.  Shareholders are expecting net margin results that are being significantly impacted by rising energy costs.  Customers are only willing to purchase product from companies that are able to demonstrate implementation of a sustainable energy program.  Production output, and annual revenue growth targets, are impacted by frequent utility outages.  No matter which of these issues is key to your business success, it is critical that you define goals with quantifiable metrics and objectives to achieve the success you want to drive.  Having goals will be critical for your team to understand what the business is focused on driving and have a common method to measure results.

MEASURE

What gets measured, gets improved.  What gets measured, gets done.  Without a measurement system it can be extremely difficult to identify what issues are most significant, gain agreement amongst team members, and quantify the impact of your efforts to meet business objectives.  However, the most difficult part of measuring a process can be where to get data or how much investment is necessary.  Fortunately for Energy Management Programs, your local Electric or Gas Utility are already capturing data that can be obtained for your measurement efforts.  Their data will contain electrical demand and usage charges as well as thermal usage that can be instrumental to highlight a number of potential project opportunities.  If further details are required, further investment may be required by your organization.  A targeted monitoring program can use existing internal resources to periodically record electric demand and usage or thermal load flows, temperatures, and pressures.  Ultimately, a real-time monitoring system with sensors measuring each process, recording data, providing trending capabilities, and alarms to identify when thresholds are exceeded will be the most accurate, informative, and least resource intensive.   Before embarking on an extensive real-time monitoring or building management system, we recommend that measurement points be evaluated by the cost to implement and the potential return for your business.

ANALYZE

This is the process of reviewing measurement data to determine root causes, process variation, and system defects.  Make sure you take time to review the captured data for accuracy as this information is being used to identify improvement programs and the business impact they will generate.  Take time to review and remove bad data so that only valuable activities are identified as next steps for your business.  Single outlying events or system defects may identify activities that can be quickly corrected to avoid future impact.  Process variations may identify longer term implementation activities that can have varying degrees of investment and benefits.  All issues identified through your analysis should be normalized to a common denominator such as shareholder value added to prioritize what to focus on for your improvements.

IMPROVE

The Energy Industry is rapidly changing with new energy efficiency and onsite generation technologies as well as government incentives programs.   Renewable energy technologies are very attractive with the thought of using free fuel to produce energy while being good stewards of the environment.   The government may provide significant incentives for a technology to entice buyers to be an early adopter of that technology.  However, even with incentives, renewable technologies can have higher investment costs, be less reliable with lower availability, and have longer paybacks.  Solutions for your business may vary based on whether an issue can be resolved with process improvement, energy efficiency equipment, or onsite generation.  Just considering onsite generation, different solutions may be selected based on combined electric and thermal needs, electric energy usage, or electrical demand.  Factors such as facility location and time of operation will also have an impact on which solution is the best fit.  Selecting a business partner that is capable of navigating technologies and government incentives to provide you, the client, with fairly evaluated choices is important.

CONTROL

Critical to your projects success will be a control system that will monitor to ensure your process changes have the performance outcome you expected.  To often operators with good intentions can forget, become untrained with infrequent events, are overloaded with work on other critical issues, or re-assigned to other tasks leaving the process your business recently improved at risk of operating out of compliance.  Controls are often left to the end of an improvement project where it can be difficult to implement effectively.  We at Regatta Solutions have found that it is imperative that controls be designed into the project from the beginning design stages.  Access to measure critical parameters should be made so that algorithms are in place to automatically make adjustments in real-time.  A good control system will also be capable of coordinating activities between multiple pieces of equipment or generation sources to ensure success of the overall operation.  Alarms will be put in place to call on operators by exception when their resources are needed to correct issues with equipment.  An automated control system is also a great opportunity to provide real-time performance and financial results for executive awareness and continued measurement for future improvement programs.

SUMMARY

Energy is an integral part of business operations today.  With rising energy needs and costs, management of these resources is becoming or has become an important part of your business success.  An Energy Management Program based on a process to provide direction, identify critical best issues, provide best value solutions, and ensure your investment decisions are achieved will help drive your success.  At any stage you may require assistance from outside experts to help you successfully navigate your energy program.  Regatta Solutions has engaged clients at various stages in this process to ensure our energy experts, applications engineers, and service team are available to help meet your goals.  You can learn more about Regatta Solutions at www.regattasp.com or give us a call at (949) 481-9670.  We would be happy to discuss your energy programs progress, success, current challenges, and how our team might help you achieve your goals.