Driven by the need to both cut resource costs and minimize their environmental impact, companies across all industries are targeting net-zero strategies and sustainability goals. Monitoring utilities such as compressed air, water, electricity, steam and other gases are important areas to examine for process improvement. Digital resource monitoring with automated technologies allows facilities to maximize energy usage, improve sustainability and optimize operations. The best way to implement this digital strategy is to start small, prove ROI, and then scale up to quickly achieve results. Stefano Noccioli, IIoT specialist at Emerson, recently presented this topic at SPS Italia and I wanted to share this data with our readers here.
Here’s how to start small and scale up:
- Begin with one machine, line or factory. Plants don’t have to implement a massive enterprise-wide change all at once but can start at a single machine.
- Gather data and identify a problem area where the process can be improved.
- Address that issue at the machine level and immediately reduce energy, improve sustainability, and prove ROI.
- Scale up from there to more machines, lines, processes or factories.
Take for example, compressed air usage. Typically, a facility can dedicate up to 30% of its electricity usage to producing compressed air. Leaks and inefficient processes can waste a third of that and can go undetected for a long time, resulting in higher emissions, unplanned downtime and increased maintenance costs. Due to leakages, the compressed air lines can become unstable and affect the movement of the cylinders, reducing quality, machine output and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). But by monitoring compressed air with digital automated solutions, plants can quickly detect leaks to address them right away or even prevent them entirely.
Many plants today conduct manual, periodic maintenance to identify leaks, but if those labor-intensive processes are replaced with continuous automated monitoring, facilities can gain real-time visibility into equipment health and processes and improve control and operations. Pneumatic system analysis enables operators to identify problem areas and find the right pressure level to optimize performance. Intelligent sensors on the plant floor continuously monitor airflow in pneumatic systems and real-time data feeds provide insight into energy consumption and machine health. By unlocking this previously hidden or inaccessible data, operators can see what’s really happening across the plant. When sensors transmit data to a PAC device equipped with analytics software which continuously aggregates data and visualizes trends like energy efficiency and connects this data with the cloud, plants can gather the insights they need to detect leaks, excessive condensation, energy loss and system anomalies, so they can make fast, informed decisions.
Using these floor-to-cloud digital technologies, companies can reduce their compressed air consumption by more than 20-30%, decrease downtime by 20%, and improve OEE by 5-10%.
By removing the guesswork from how and where resources are used, plants can gain visibility and control of their utility consumption. Regardless of a company’s size or level of IIoT-enablement, by starting small and then scaling up from there, it can maximize energy use and reduce environmental impact through data-informed decisions that empower quick, effective action for process improvement.
To get started on that first step, Emerson offers automated multimedia monitoring solutions for such critical resources as air, water, steam, chemicals, gases and electricity. More information is available on the Emerson website about IIoT solutions for energy efficiency and sustainability.