When we normally think of Energy Planning we usually think of the Government or major energy producers. There are a considerable number of five year plans published and committed to by various levels of government around the word. However there is nothing stopping industry in setting up its own energy plans. These plans should include both long term reduction plans and the day to day consumption.
Energy, be it electricity, gas, oil, steam, or any other form should be planned for and viewed like any other production resource. It is possible to include energy consumed, just like any other consumable material or resource, into the product definitions, as part of the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system be it in a Bill of Materials or a Master Recipe. Treating energy this way is the start of the process in transforming the accounting of energy from an overhead to a direct material.
Once the energy is included in the product definitions, ERP systems can give the company visibility into the energy demand from production, since energy is now a calculated demand based upon the production schedule.
For the non production energy consumption, those for office & warehouse buildings for example, historical data can allow the energy demands to be entered into the ERP systems as independent demand. Modern ERP system usually allow for seasonality while entering both independent & dependant demand. This functionality allows for seasonal conditions (e.g. differences in energy consumption in the summer and winter) to be accounted for in the planning calculations.
With the various energy reduction projects that most companies are undertaking today, monitoring the planned consumption and the actual consumption becomes a fundamental part of the planning process. Energy usage is constantly under pressure to be reduced. As successful energy reduction projects are completed energy consumption goes down. This means that the information about energy consumption in the ERP systems has to be updated. As you can see from some of the examples in this series of blogs, small changes can result in large savings in energy; these savings need to be reflected in the planning systems.
Planning energy usage in production is just the start. As further investigation into the consumption of energy in all aspects of the business and supply chain continues other opportunities become visible. The carbon adjusted supply chain is now possible. Transportation routes can now be optimized to reduce energy consumed, minimize the carbon impact, along with the other traditional supply chain optimization attributes (e.g. costs, transport time, amount of equipment etc.). Decisions concerning the location of manufacturing facilities or warehouses can now take into account the energy costs & the associated carbon impact and balance this information with the labor and material costs.
Day to Day planning of energy consumption also is a possibility. With software available today that models the production process, it is possible to extrapolate the results from manufacturing when various input parameters are changed. This allows the company to adjust their energy usage based upon current operating or market conditions. In the case of a company with co-generation capabilities for example, this type of modeling allows the operator to identify if it is more profitable to sell the co-generated energy to the grid, use the energy internally, or a combination of both, by manipulating the run time parameters of the process. Other cases for adjusting the energy consumption could take into account the current weather conditions (e.g. humidity, outside temperature, wind speed).