Planning A Capital Improvement Project? Be Smart. Be Strategic.
Industrial businesses with massive manufacturing and distribution centers sprinkled throughout the country need to improve operational efficiencies and staff productivity to remain competitive.
Optimizing a building’s infrastructure with industrial energy solutions can often accomplish both..
To be smart about the process — and get the most bang for their buck — businesses need to partner with an energy systems optimization firm that specializes in planning comprehensive projects and has a bundled, portfolio-wide approach. This approach is very different from the typical local contracting approach that many companies use for upgrading their facility’s infrastructure..
Here are the major differences between the two approaches:
A local or regional approach relies on multiple vendors across the portfolio of facilities resulting in inconsistent implementation of corporate standards from site to site. It requires substantial up-front capital as time intensive procurement and implementation practices for each site slows down the accrual of savings. A lack of funding available for large-scale, portfolio wide projects lead many to inaccurately assume that it’s simply more cost effective to complete sites piecemeal.
Since a local or regional approach does not look at the portfolio holistically businesses receive standalone energy systems that are typically focused on a controlling a specific part of the facility’s infrastructure (I.e., Lighting, or HVAC Controls). Local standalone controls are often not programmable or accessible remotely, and do not offer infrastructure and portfolio-wide energy systems optimization. Inconsistent staff training on new systems and irregular monitoring across sites leads to further value loss.
To help customers achieve maximum success from an energy optimization project, the energy experts utilizes an end-to-end single team of specialists across regions, who develop and apply corporate standards from site to site. Unlike the local regional approach, this identifies all viable solutions and prioritizes according to the customer’s need to maximize impact of projects across portfolios.
With a portfolio-wide program, accelerated procurement and implementation leads to faster energy savings. These savings pay for the projects, eliminating the need for upfront capital, proving to be more cost-effective and requires less start-up financing than a disparate, site-by-site approach. Another benefit of bundling projects is when materials across a portfolio are packaged to create greater buying power. Material costs usually make up more than 70% of an infrastructure optimization project and leveraging buying power is a great way to get manufacturers to sharpen their pencils and reduce overall project costs..
A bundled approach to industrial energy solutions provides centralized controls for remote access, reporting and continuous monitoring of systems across sites. Integrated controls across all locations optimize energy systems and are accessible from a central headquarters. An energy systems optimization company should offer consistent training, as well as continuous monitoring and support across an entire portfolio, allowing value to be sustained over the long-term.
Some features of industrial energy solutions include continuous commissioning so that energy savings are maintained over the life of the equipment. Automatic alarms provide early warning of malfunction, reduce nuisance calls, and prevent costly emergency repairs. Sub-meters track energy use by circuit or whole building. And custom dashboards report program performance and provide visibility to corporate stakeholders at all levels.
To start the bundled energy project with industrial energy solutions, energy experts will sit down with the executives, plant workers and other stakeholders impacted, to gain a better understanding of their needs, challenges, budgetary requirements and goals of the energy systems optimization project, said Lou Preston, a Strategic Account Leader for a national energy systems optimization company.
“With the company’s and user’s needs in mind, the energy optimization company will then work with the business to develop a plan that best fits their requirements, with phases if need be, and one that can be future-proofed for any new technology down the road,” Preston said. “Projects can be designed to meet the organization’s unique measures of success or required end goal, whether it be safety, energy reduction, increased employee productivity or ROI. “
Preston explained that oftentimes it doesn’t make financial sense for a project to be phased as companies would be paying for energy experts and needed equipment to be mobilized more than once. If done right, a strategic rollout of projects can be designed so that the project costs are paid for by the energy savings, eliminating the need for up-front capital. Additionally, utility rebates and incentives, financing, and leases for capital and operational costs are also available.
With a bundled energy systems optimization approach that focuses on developing a strategic solution to optimizing all facilities across the portfolio and the positive impact for workers, deeper energy savings and operational efficiencies are achieved. Facilities are efficient and staff are more productive, healthy, comfortable and safe.