Energy saving: key areas of focus and "low-hanging fruit" for industry

High energy prices and a shortage of raw materials are currently the biggest challenges facing the industry. Now more than ever, companies are looking for ways to save energy, which often goes hand in hand with reducing raw material consumption and waste production. But where are the main savings opportunities and how much impact can this have on the production process? We spoke to Karel Kellens and Jeroen Stuyts, experts in this field at Flanders Make.

Ten years ago, companies already started exploring energy efficiency in the manufacturing industry, mainly from an ecological or environmental point of view. Back then, the focus on energy saving was not as strong from an economic point of view because of relatively low energy prices. With current energy prices, energy efficiency has become increasingly urgent in manufacturing. Companies even felt forced to stop or reduce production due to high energy prices.

Three main categories for savings

Through years of research, methodologies have been developed and principles identified to reduce energy costs. Three broad categories of energy-saving measures can be identified: process selection, machine efficiency and parameter optimisation.

Karel Kellens: "It starts with mapping energy consumption. Measuring is knowing, and by identifying hotspots in consumption, awareness is created and targeted measures can be taken."

Jeroen Stuyts: "Really thinking about the system can also lead to great insights and therefore savings. It doesn't always have to be very difficult. Nowadays a lot is possible with energy recovery if you have processes where a lot of weight is brought up to speed, for example. In a typical machine, a spinning movement takes place at high speed. If that machine then slows down, it can return the energy; you can recover that."

Not obvious, but saving

Karel: "As part of research, we worked out procedures for mapping energy consumption, including raw material consumption, any process emissions and even waste streams. Because there is also a very important energy element in that. In doing so, companies should not only look at energy consumption, but also at when energy is used. With shifts in capacity rates and peak loads, strategies such as spreading energy consumption throughout the day can be economically beneficial."

The podcast discusses that energy conservation is relevant for both machine builders and end users. For machine builders, it can even strengthen their position in the market. For end users, there are direct savings on energy costs, but also indirect benefits, such as better insight into production processes and the ability to predict machine performance and optimise maintenance.

In short, energy saving is no longer an option, but a necessity for industry. It starts with awareness, data analysis and collaboration with experts to take the right measures and promote energy efficiency. Through this approach, companies can not only reduce costs, but also contribute to a more sustainable future.

More information?

Do you want to hear more concrete savings examples? Then listen to the podcast "Energy saving: key points of interest and "low-hanging-fruit" for industry" (Dutch only), watch our previously given webinars on this topic or contact us.

Miranda de Ruiter, Communication Officer

Miranda de Ruiter is a communications specialist at Flanders Make. Passionate about technological innovation and sustainability, she creates both copy and the Flanders Make podcast on these topics. With one goal: to share insights and stories that inspire industry growth.