Energy-intensive manufacturers are being warned that the Government’s energy support package is not a ‘magic bullet’ for under-strain organisations, and further action must be taken within large-scale plants to weather the ongoing crisis.

Under plans unveiled by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, electricity prices will be fixed for all non-domestic energy customers at £211 per MWh for electricity for the next six months starting October 1st. However, building analytics experts, CIM, is calling for greater proactivity in energy-intensive industries to further mitigate the impact of rising utility costs.

“Though this support is welcome, the price of electricity is still double what it was last October so this clearly isn’t a ‘magic bullet’ for industry,’” explains Cillian Casey, regional vice-president EMEA at CIM. “Energy-intensive manufacturers are therefore still in an unenviable position, with this rising cost per unit more keenly felt due to enormous power outputs often required to keep large-scale plants running.

“Also, while the amount of energy required per site may remain consistent to guarantee production, the same cannot be said of this level of support. This is a short, finite solution to address a long-term issue, so immediate action is required to reduce energy consumption and demand to avoid expensive energy bills, which have continued to rise. For example, identifying areas where operational efficiency can be increased and identifying critical utilities or equipment that may be over-consuming energy can have a huge impact, especially with energy costs still being so high.”

While areas for potential improvement is a vital step to addressing the ongoing energy crisis, ever-increasing maintenance workloads may be proving a barrier to implementation. According to the CIM report The Energy Blind Spots, maintenance personnel are continually stuck on a reactive footing due to an overwhelming number of BMS alarms.

Specifically, the report, which surveyed facilities managers at life sciences and micro-electronics manufacturers, showed that plant teams were experiencing 12.5 alarms a day on average, with half receiving over 30. More worryingly, a quarter of respondents said that 40% of alarms currently go unactioned, further demonstrating how there is likely a wide array of opportunities for manufacturers to reduce or optimise energy consumption.

“The findings from our recent report demonstrate an ongoing issue in industry with facilities management team workloads, which has now been supercharged by the energy crisis,” explains Cillian. “Even with the Government’s new support package, the need to forensically analyse plant processes and see where savings can be made is increasingly pressing. In such situations, building data analytics and automated fault detection diagnostics can offer overstretched facilities managers a way to ensure more operationally efficient plants, and identify critical utilities or equipment that may be over-consuming energy.

"Software solutions that automatically create prioritised action lists alongside alerts should therefore be seen as a vital tool to navigate these unprecedented times. CIM’s own PEAK Platform, for instance, derives data points from across entire plants and buildings to create informed, proactive maintenance strategies, allowing teams to take stronger control, generate significant operational efficiencies and minimise energy demand.”