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Once upon a time, it was hard to get plastics processors to give more than lip service to the idea of conserving energy in their plants. I think it’s safe to say that those times are gone for good. It’s still true that energy cost represents only 4% to 5% of total processing costs, but the possible savings from good energy management are in the region of 30% of current energy costs for most plastics plants—and that goes straight to the bottom line. About two-thirds of those savings can be achieved by no-cost or low-cost actions. For example, one-third of the savings can be achieved through management actions—i.e., monitoring and targeting energy usage, creating management controls, raising employee awareness, and setting appropriate policies. Another third of the savings can be achieved through maintenance actions—simple quick-fix actions such as controlling the use of utilities. The final third is achieved through capital investment in energy savings—and the average payback for such investments is around six to nine months.
Don’t take my word for it. These are some conclusions of a fascinating and highly readable book just published by Plastics Information Direct in the U.K. (www.pidbooks.com). Energy Management in Plastics Processing: Strategies, targets, techniques and tools (265 pages soft cover, $160 plus shipping) was written by Dr. Robin Kent of Tangram Technology Ltd., British consulting engineers for plastics processing. This book really gets down to details on what to do and how to do it if you really want to find out where the energy goes in your plant and eliminate waste. It’s full of guidelines, charts, graphs, and practical tips on every aspect of energy use and plastics processing (even mold design):