Reducing energy consumption reduces costs

Reducing energy consumption reduces costs

General Motors South Africa (GMSA) is working closely with various component and parts suppliers in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, which includes Port Elizabeth (PE) and nearby towns, to equip them with the knowledge and skills necessary to help reduce energy consumption and save costs in their operations.

At the end of April, 31 delegates, representing 23 suppliers who manufacture parts and components for GM’s assembly plants in PE, attended a half-day workshop at GMSA’s Kempston Road plant.

The workshop comes after GM Utilities engineers conducted energy audits at some suppliers to identify opportunities to reduce consumption.

These audits revealed that, while some suppliers have good energy saving practices in place, there is room for improvement – particularly when it comes to energy consumed in the industrial processes, which often have the highest percentage of consumption in the industrial environment.

For example, at the GM Struandale plant in PE the majority of consumption can be attributed to the paint-shop, which is responsible for 85 percent of the energy consumption at the plant. Craig Beetham, GMSA energy and utilities co-ordinator, emphasises: “Energy saving in the industrial processes is often under estimated and completely overlooked in general facilities, where factors such as lighting and air-conditioning are easily identifiable energy consumers.”

He adds: “We are working together with our suppliers as partners, to reduce production costs and to ensure the most efficient and sustainable operations possible – in terms of energy consumption – are obtained.”

According to GMSA’s engineers, through close scrutiny and analysis of high-consumption processes, businesses can make significant reductions in energy consumption caused by oversized equipment and processes that involve heating, fans, pumps and compressed air.

Beetham refers to a process that heats water to illustrate how an inefficient and poorly designed process can add to costs through unnecessary consumption. “A process, for example, that loses one litre of water through evaporation per minute would require an additional 37 kW of power to compensate for the loss. This can add up to R200 000 per annum if ignored.”

He adds that the audits found more value when evaluating processes (and looking for ways to reduce energy consumption there) rather than focusing only on general utilities. “We challenge all our suppliers to look at every part of their industrial processes, and reassess their set-point for temperatures and pressure, as this is where energy is wasted in the system.”

And, in addition to the cost-saving benefits, implementation costs are often minimal – with payback achieved in 12 months and less.

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