Tips for a More Energy Efficient Food Industry

Out of all input costs in the food industry, energy cost ranks third behind raw materials and labour. Therefore, there is a huge opportunity for today’s food manufacturing units to become more energy efficient by reducing this energy expenditure by utilising the latest conservation technologies.  This can significantly affect the bottom line of many food manufacturers by reducing their overall cost of production.  However, it is important to note that improvement in energy efficiency is not just about enjoying economic benefits. An energy efficient food industry is also beneficial in terms of energy supply security, social sustainability, environmental protection, as well as industrial competitiveness.

Regardless of location, there is a serious need for food processing firms to take a look at their energy usage pattern and minimise this wastage as much as possible. While doing this, however, adequate care should also be taken to safeguard the environment. Mentioned below are some initiatives that any food production facility can implement to become more energy efficient.

Automation: One of the best ways for the food industry to reduce energy consumption is via automation, monitoring, and control. In order to achieve this objective, they can utilise the processes as mentioned below.

  • Facilities can reduce the consumption of energy in different business areas by setting specific energy goals for each area of operation.
  • With the help of the latest technology tools, it is possible for the facilities to optimise equipment utilisation, monitor kilowatt consumption, and finally synchronising the system with plant operations by building a robust process for control.
  • The automation system can also make use of energy dashboards receive alerts related to the consumption of energy. This will enable the facility managers and operators to make prompt decisions.

Efficient Temperature Control Systems: Temperature controlled systems as well as refrigeration units play a pivotal role in all food manufacturing factories. Anything between 30 and 80 percent of the unit’s overall energy consumption may account for refrigeration and chilling. Energy efficiency can be improved in these areas by

  • Making use of heat exchangers that are more efficient.
  • Use of the most suitable refrigerant systems that have the highest efficiency rating.
  • Implementation of robust maintenance systems that include detection and cleaning of leakages as well as optimal thermal set points.

Start Using VSD and Motors: It is possible for a food manufacturing unit to reduce the operating cost of their electrically-powered equipment by up to 50 percent by using variable speed drives. VSDs can be installed on all machineries with motor, including fans, pumps, and compressors. To ensure maximum cooling, cold storage facilities often use large evaporative fans. However, these fans tend to run at the same speed even after the optimum temperatures are achieved. This wastage can be eliminated by using VSDs on the fans.

Utilisation of Alternative Energy Systems: Wherever possible, modern day food producing units must explore the possibility of making use of alternative energy systems as well as sources. Huge savings can be achieved by using low power factor equipment and advanced devices that are capable of delivering sustainable power for plant operations. For example, wind power, solar panels, fuel cell technologies, can be extremely useful. When used in tandem with the existing grid supply, each of these technologies is capable of delivering hybrid power to significantly reduce the consumption of energy and operating costs.

Energy Efficient Lighting: Over the last decade or so, we have seen a phenomenal growth of Light emitting diode (LED) systems. As far as reducing energy consumption is concerned, this technology has the potential to be a gamechanger for the food industry. LED not only consumes less energy, but also requires less maintenance and is brighter and cooler. Most importantly, compared to traditional incandescent or halogen lighting, it offers a higher ROI.

Cultural Change: Finally, one of the most important steps for the food industry is probably to build and maintain a culture of energy conservation. Therefore, it is important for the food manufacturers to conduct training sessions where best energy practices are discussed and the operators are taught to make better decisions. All stakeholders must understand the importance of energy conservation and create well defined steps for the integration of energy efficiency best practices into the organizations’ daily routines.

These were just a few energy efficiency tips that can help any food related business. If you have more questions or need help implementing these energy saving measures, please feel free to contact us at Lumix. We have a wide range of solutions tailored to make industrial food processing units more competitive, productive, and profitable.