Automation World,, Online Survey Results

March 1, 2004
The theme of this month’s issue, “Energy Management,” is becoming a hot topic among Automation World’s readers, but manufacturers have a long way to go to before they realize its benefits.

In order to manage energy, companies must measure its costs and, as a first step, should track, report and react to changes in energy costs. Yet a recent online survey of Automation World subscribers and Web site visitors ( found that only 21 percent of manufacturers track and react to changes in energy costs on a daily or more frequent basis. Twenty-one percent track changes on a monthly basis; 27 percent track changes on a quarterly or annual basis; and almost 20 percent never track changes in energy costs.

Fifty-one percent of the same group of 53 respondents report that energy costs have increased at their facilities, while 8 percent report that costs have stayed the same, and 14 percent cite a decrease in energy costs. Unfortunately, almost 27 percent of respondents don’t know how energy costs

have changed at their organizations.

Underscoring the importance of energy management is the percentage of “total cost of goods sold” that is attributed to energy costs. Sixteen percent of respondents cite this as between 20 and 39 percent of total cost of goods sold, and 14 percent cite 10 to 19 percent. However, more than 40 percent of respondents don’t know how much energy costs contribute to the total cost of goods sold.

A managed resource

A slim majority of manufacturers recognize that energy is a resource to be managed, with 16 percent employing an energy management system that is integrated into the automation system. Another 12 percent integrate energy management with their asset management systems, while 27 percent use non-integrated energy management systems. However, 39 percent of the respondents report that energy management occurs only on an ad-hoc basis.

There are ways to trim energy costs, but, again, a lack of participation and knowledge can hinder a manufacturer’s ability to take advantage of these opportunities. The good news—24 percent report that their organizations participate in energy rebate programs. However, 39 percent say they do not participate and another 27 percent just don’t know.

Automation suppliers offer services to help manufacturers manage energy costs, and one-third of the survey respondents say they purchase this support from their vendors. Other systems and components that respondents purchase for energy management include: uninterruptible power supplies (55 percent), high-efficiency motors (35 percent), power quality measurement systems (31 percent), peak demand systems (31 percent), emergency/back-up generators (31 percent) and energy management software (22 percent).

When asked to choose the one statement that best describes their organization’s policy on energy management, survey respondents said:

• 22 percent—We closely monitor

energy costs, quality and consumption with an energy management system that is tightly integrated into our manufacturing processes.

• 29 percent—We have started to apply energy management systems to monitor costs and quality.

• 18 percent—We want to reduce our energy costs, but are not sure where to start.

• 10 percent—We don’t believe energy management has a significant impact on operations.

• 16 percent—Not applicable

Clearly, there is opportunity to be found in managing energy costs and consumption. Articles throughout this issue highlight successful user applications, supplier service opportunities and ways to save money through power and motor management. Applying these ideas will keep your manufacturing organization on the leading edge of energy management.

Jane Gerold

If you have an idea for a survey topic, or have a comment about our Web site, please send Editorial Director Jane Gerold an e-mail at [email protected].