UK manufacturers have been urged to develop a long-term energy roadmap and not assume that the current energy crisis is a one-off.
The warning, from specialist building analytics firm CIM, comes as the current spike in energy costs threatens to shut down production across a number of industries and is leading to increasing concerns about UK manufacturing competitiveness.
CIM Managing Director, EMEA, Paul Walsh, says the crisis is making energy a priority in the C-Suite. “The crisis is a super pain-point that is forcing energy consumption and efficiency into the boardroom agenda across multiple sectors, not just those who are traditionally regarded as energy intensive.”
While high-profile energy intensive industries such as chemicals, steel and paper are suffering a significant increase in their costs, Mr Walsh says other sectors, like life sciences and hi-tech manufacturing, are equally as vulnerable: “The life sciences and hi-tech sectors are also big energy users given their highly-controlled validated areas, such as clean rooms and temperature-controlled spaces, that cannot just be turned down or turned off to save energy.”
Mr. Walsh says that energy reduction measures that, in the past, have been regarded as a lesser priority, should now become much more prominent on the factory floor. “Energy efficiency solutions are available that can deliver on ROI while not requiring huge CapEx investments, and should support manufacturers through this crisis, and into the long term.”
Mr Walsh advocates a two-stage strategy. “In our view it is important to prioritise energy conservation measures in the short-term whilst developing a long-term sustainability strategy. The route forward for manufacturers is to optimise the energy intensive equipment they already have onsite by applying intelligence to identify operational inefficiencies. Not only will this detail what is being consumed, but also which areas of a site are inefficient and can be identified for improvement.”
He continues: “Manufacturers need to aggressively target energy costs, particularly in non-validated areas that are often left undiagnosed, such as HVAC equipment that is not operating as it was originally intended or designed to. Identifying and resolving multiple small gains can have an enormous impact on energy costs. Ultimately, as sharp as this spike will feel now, an improvement in energy efficiency over the next four to five years is the only sure-fire way manufacturers can futureproof themselves against any further energy crises.”