Resource Efficiency

In a resource efficient way, it is possible to produce more by spending less money and natural resources; one can get more income from a single commodity unit, which means more value can be created with lower material costs.

Resource efficiency principles provide the entrepreneur with precisely the necessary tools, technologies, and solutions that help to make production more efficient and save costs.

Ten ways to make your production more efficient:

1. Use eco-design principles

Eco-design, or eco-friendly product development, is the result of the fact that more than 80% of the product’s environmental impact is due to the design process. Eco-design aims at creating products that minimise environmental impact during their life cycle as much as possible. A well-designed product is more eco-friendly and more affordable to produce.

2. Introduce the environmental management systems

The environmental management systems (e.g. ISO 14 001, EMAS, green office) can be used to systematically analyse an enterprise and to find ways to save money from both a monetary and environmental perspective. Most certainly, they help to define the most important management and everyday activities to make the use of natural resources more sustainable, reduce waste generation, and make the work environment healthier.

3. Automatic control with IT solutions

The more automated IT solutions are used in a manufacturing plant, the more productivity increased and there is a reduced chance of scrap, as the likelihood of human error decreases. New IT solutions can automate both production buildings and processes. Automatic control also helps to reduce resource costs and make production faster and more accurate.

4. Control heating and ventilation automatically

The correct heat and good ventilation of the premises are crucial for the production plant. Furthermore, a small change in temperature has a surprising effect on energy consumption. Therefore, it is important to create the most economical heating and ventilation system possible.

The most sustainable way to manage heating and ventilation is through IT solutions that have been made automatic. Then, the system itself checks that the buildings are heated in a way that they need to be cooled as little as possible.

5. Monitor energy consumption with IT solutions

Devices that are unused but plugged in may also become invisible energy traps that permanently consume so-called phantom power. According to studies at Lawrence Berkley Laboratory, keeping electrical equipment connected to the mains power supply increases energy consumption by 5% to 10% per year.

When it comes to energy efficiency and sustainability, it is wise to introduce IT solutions that monitor and control the energy use of all devices. For example, IT solutions can be configured to monitor the real-time energy consumption of devices or to turn them on/off at a specified time.

6. Start using residual heat

The heat released during the production process can be recycled. In this way, it is possible to save raw materials and money for heating by warming production and storage buildings and consumed water by means of residual heat, for example. Additionally, residual heat can be used in preheaters and dryers, for floor heating, ice melting and anti-icing, for cold production, etc.

7. Upgrade the lighting

Properly designed lighting systems can ensure the enterprise cost savings in the amount of even more than 80%. Conversely, an obsolete, oversized or inadequately controlled lighting system can turn out to be unexpectedly expensive in the analysis.

There are several smart solutions to create a resource-efficient lighting system:

  • prefer LED lights;
  • group the lights functionally;
  • switch off the lights in areas not used;
  • adjust the intensity of the lights according to the nature of the production activity;
  • bring the lights lower at workplaces that need precision;
  • install the lights with motion sensors in areas that are used randomly.
8. Upgrade the production equipment

Over time, the reliability of the devices will decrease and their performance indicators become obsolete. In other words, new devices can produce as much or more, but use less energy and other important resources to do so. Therefore, it is wise to start looking at the indicators of more modern models if production equipment has been in use already for a long time. New devices are often equipped with work process monitoring systems already at the factory.

9. Turn production residues into resources.

A large part of the production residues can be redirected to the production process after some processing. This way, they may become exciting new products.

Residues that are not feasible to be reused can be diverted to energy or heat production. In this way, on the one hand, the manufacturer avoids high charges for the release of residues and, on the other hand, contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, as fossil fuels, such as coal or gas, have not gone into power production.

10. Turn waste into resources

Every manufacturer produces waste – this is an integral part of production. Also, each manufacturer faces the problem of waste disposal. Pay for waste management, which make the final price of a product more expensive? This has a significant impact on the competitiveness of the manufacturer.

At the same time, there are several technologies that make it possible to reuse others’ waste as resources. Therefore, such waste can serve as raw material for the manufacturer – just take a broader look at own and others’ production and find solutions offering synergies.