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IMA Energy & Environment Blog

Is Automation the Answer for Industrial Energy Waste?

Constellation is an IMA member energy provider…

For all the millions of homes and businesses scattered throughout the country, it is actually the industrial sector that consumes by far the most energy in the United States on a yearly basis. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA), the residential and commercial sectors only accounted for 40 percent of U.S. energy consumption last year—combined. That leaves nearly two-thirds of all consumption to the industrial sector.

Energy is typically one of the top five operating costs for most businesses—especially so for the high-demand industrial sector. As such, energy efficiency measures should be looked at as a way to not only control costs and streamline production, but also to provide fiscal stability and environmental consciousness.

In a recent Department of Energy (DOE) report, analysts noted that emerging technologies may have a role to play in helping to reduce energy waste across the industrial sector. The report’s authors claim that “…there is potential to accelerate the rate of adopting energy efficient technologies and practices that could reduce energy consumption in the industrial sector by an additional 15 to 32 percent by 2025.”

One such technology is automation. The proliferation of connected and Internet-enabled devices is now converging with increasingly complex machine learning software, optimal conditions for quality automated processes, and industrial facility.

A 2017 MarketsandMarkets™ report found that the industrial control and factory automation market are poised to balloon to a value of $239.1 billion over the next five years. Among the reasons for the accelerating adoption, report analysts pinpointed energy efficiency as a primary driver.

How will automation impact energy waste at industrial facilities? Let’s take a closer look at the use cases provided by MarketsandMarkets™.

Distributed Control Systems to simplify energy distribution

Distributed control systems (DCS) will unify connected devices into a single autonomous system. DCS technology will help companies reduce downtime and improve production with the most efficient distribution of resources. The aforementioned MarketsandMarkets™ report further stated that the oil industry is likely to be a primary beneficiary due to the rise in oil exploration.

Data analytics

As connected devices aggregate data, analysts will be able to develop a more informed energy management policy. From assessing shipping logistics to maintaining facility temperatures, this data will offer facility managers enough insight into their own operations to alter processes as more efficient opportunities are discovered.

Robotic automation

Many large-scale facilities are even expanding the role of autonomous robots to expedite processes and curb waste. In an example from a Chinese package sorting facility, autonomous self-charging electric robots sort 200,000 parcels a day—virtually eliminating mistakes and rapidly expanding efficiency, both of which can help facilities scale back on energy consumption.

 

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