Our customers in the process industries are facing some major challenges, says Michael Ziesemer, COO, Endress+Hauser.
“As companies and regions compete, improved resource efficiency and even more importantly enhanced energy efficiency are becoming critical factors. What makes these issues so important is the fact that most companies in the process industry are major consumers of energy, raw materials and water. This costs them a lot of money, and our customers’ customers ask questions about the sustainability of that production model. Solutions are being driven at the Executive Board level. Process instrumentation and automation have an indispensable role to play starting with energy and resource monitoring. Companies track all of their energy and resource flows and create visualized consumption profiles. The data provides a basis for drawing initial conclusions, setting priorities and defining an action plan.
There is however a need for professional consultancy. Naturally, we provide this service to our customers along with the hardware and software and engineering development of the monitoring system. Once you have quantified your resource consumption, you can decide what further action to take. In principle, all action taken to improve resource efficiency can be divided into 2 categories: a) maintenance and optimization of the technical infrastructure and b) improvement of system operations.
The following two examples illustrate these points. During regular checks on the compressed air system to improve the technical infrastructure, we have been able to achieve double-digit reductions in energy consumption simply by eliminating leakage and optimizing line lengths. The ROI period in this instance was only a few months.
To cite another example, 60% of energy consumption was concentrated on the activated sludge basin. Aeration can be optimized if control is based on measurement of ammonia and nitrate nutrient parameters. Energy consumption can be reduced by 15% - 20%. Overall, energy consumption can be reduced by 20% - 25% in the process industry. That will not happen overnight. Engineers are needed to create the roadmap, but there are major opportunities out there.”