Hungry for higher energy savings


24 November 2017
Where should the ACR industry aim its efforts to get the greatest ‘bang for its buck’ in terms of energy efficiency? The answer is the UK’s biggest manufacturing sector – food and drink – which is larger than automotive and aerospace combined. John Grenville, Managing Director of ECEX, explains.
All the statistics concerning food and drink manufacture point to a compelling case for boosting the sector’s energy efficiency and, therefore, a potentially enormous market for ACR installers and manufacturers.

Food and drink is a £95.4 billion turnover industry making it the single largest manufacturing sector in the UK with a Gross Value Added (the measure of the value of goods and services produced) of £21.9bn.
The Carbon Trust estimates that around 10% of greenhouse emissions and 16% of the UK’s electricity consumption are attributable to the use refrigeration, air conditioning and heat pump equipment, all of which are common elements in food and drink manufacture.

The food industry is responsible for 12% of the UK’s industrial energy consumption and uses over 4,500 GWh/yr of electrical energy, according to the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Industry Board (ACRIB).

Enormous potential
Another set of figures, this time from food production machinery manufacturer M&P Engineering, suggest that the entire food chain, which comprises agricultural production, manufacturing, distribution, retail and consumption, is responsible for 18% of the total UK energy use.

In the UK the food chain consists of approximately 300,000 enterprises and employs 3.3 million people and accounts for £188 billion in consumer expenditure.

All these figures point to one thing – there is enormous potential to reduce energy use within the food industry by improving the overall efficiency of refrigeration processes and to develop systems that fully use resources.

Indeed, ACRIB says reducing its environmental impact both in direct emissions (leakage of refrigerant) and indirect (energy use) is one of the most important challenges for the sector and its essential users.

It is being addressed with many energy saving innovations and environmental initiatives, not all of which involve great investment or disruptive installation.
Improved efficiency
For example, ECEX Air Intake Screens offer a simple, but extremely effective solution, cutting maintenance times as well as contributing to carbon reduction – a classic win-win situation.

ECEX Air Intake are long lasting, weather-resistant filters designed specifically for high velocity airflow applications such as chillers, dry air coolers, air handling units, cooling towers and air conditioning units.

In the food and drink sector, these simple but effective products are helping save energy and improve operational efficiency at leading soft drinks manufacturer Lucozade Ribena Suntory’s (LRS’s) factory in Coleford, The Forest of Dean.

To counter pollen, leaves and dust are deposited on filters and heating/cooling coils at LRS’s factory – located in a forest environment – four ECEX Air Intake Screens were fitted to the supply air intakes, replacing existing banks of pre-filter media in-front of the intake louvres to reduce clogging from dust, and a further two Air Intake Screens on the cooling towers to prevent fans and pumps being affected by leaves, pollen and dust.

The results have included large savings on filter changing costs and a dramatic reduction in energy consumption. The cooling towers will also benefit from less maintenance and faster servicing since the towers no longer needing to be stripped down to clean the internal components.
Maintenance: a lucrative revenue stream 
A recent survey of the food and drink industry by consultancy BDO in association with the Institution of Mechanical Engineers reveals that nearly half the survey respondents (45 per cent) employ strategies to mitigate changing energy prices. The most popular among these were arranging fixed price agreements with energy suppliers (70 per cent) and to invest in energy efficient technology and machinery (65 per cent).

However, maintenance remains a powerful tool in the fight against higher energy consumption. Indeed, it is the most cost-effective way to ensure reliability, safety, and energy efficiency in ACR plant and equipment.

Maintenance is also an area ripe with opportunities. According to some studies, total building costs could be slashed by up to 50 per cent simply by switching from reactive to predictive maintenance.

So, for example, ACR professionals can expand their services to offer advice on predictive maintenance techniques (such as vibration analysis, infrared thermography, ultrasonic testing and motor current analysis to diagnose problems in advance). This ensures that the equipment is up to the job. If it is, then it must be well serviced so that it continues to operate efficiently.

They can also offer preventive maintenance services such as:
  • Advising how to implement a solid, well-managed maintenance plan which will contribute to a longer life for chillers, air handling units, condensing units, and so on, and reduce their total cost of ownership.
  • Maintaining an operating log and compare the performance recorded with design and start-up data.
  • Checking for leaks and moisture ingress.
  • Treating water with appropriate chemicals to reduce scale and corrosion and prevent biological growth.
  • Cleaning to ensure coils and fans continue to operate at their optimum performance.
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