Leading the way: 3M sets the standard for energy management
March 15, 2013
By Alison Dunn
When it comes to energy management, you could say 3M Canada is a bit of a trendsetter.
Certainly the global company has been first off the mark with many innovative, unique products such as Post-It Notes, Tensor bandages, Command adhesives and more. But the company isn’t just innovative with its products; it has also worked hard to remain at the forefront of manufacturing, particularly in energy management and green manufacturing.
3M’s tape manufacturing facility in Brockville, Ont., is no exception. In fact, the facility has been improving its energy usage since the early 2000s, when rising energy costs and increased environmental awareness had the plant looking for savings.
“When energy was cheap, we didn’t always manage it correctly,” says Rich Muir, plant manager at the Brockville plant. “It became obvious that if we changed our behaviours and how we ran some projects in the plant, we could reduce our energy consumption significantly.”
Muir also knew energy costs were only going to continue to increase, which meant energy management needed to become a top priority.
“We forecast an eight per cent increase in electricity every year,” he says. “With headwinds like that, it just makes good business sense to work on energy reduction.”
The facility started making major changes—everything from replacing all the lighting with LED fixtures down to simply shutting off whatever could be shut off on the weekends. That hard work paid off and the company achieved a 15 per cent reduction in energy consumption between 2007 and 2010.
But, as so often happens with improvement initiatives, the drive toward energy management eventually started to wane.
“After a year or two of pretty significant improvements, we stopped improving,” Muir says. “We realized we needed to re-energize our efforts.”
As luck would have it, the Brockville plant would get that very opportunity—and become the first plant of its kind in Canada.
Introducing the standard
At the same time the Brockville plant was looking to re-energize its energy management efforts, leaders at 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minn., were embarking on a plan of their own: comply with two new standards for energy management.
The first of those standards is ISO 50001, a voluntary international standard promoting energy management in businesses. Much like ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, this standard helps businesses create an energy management system leading to improved energy performance. The goal is to integrate energy efficiency into management processes, and the International Standards Organization (ISO) estimates that the standard could influence up to 60 per cent of the world’s energy use.
The second, the Superior Energy Performance certification, is an initiative of the United States Department of Energy. SEP is an international certification program specifically for industrial facilities that offers a system for verifying energy performance improvements. It also requires that organizations become ISO 50001 certified.
3M was planning to implement both standards at one of its U.S. facilities, but also wanted to find an international location to do it at the same time. With its history of running as efficiently as possible, the Brockville facility seemed like the perfect fit. 3M Canada was more than happy to come on board, as was the team in Brockville.
There was only one catch: the ISO 50001 standard was still in draft form. That meant not only could the requirements change, but no one in Canada had any previous experience becoming certified. Could the Brockville plant meet this tough new challenge?
Making it happen
Once 3M Canada decided to move forward with the pilot project at the Brockville plant, management had to put together a strong team to guide it through to completion.
“Formation of the team is very important because you have to have the right people,” says Andrew Hejnar, energy manager for 3M Canada. “You need people who believe in energy management to be part of this whole process.”
The team consisted of Hejnar, Earl Taylor, plant engineering leader at the Brockville plant, Tyler Blakely, master technologist at the Brockville plant, and Alan Polk, 3M Canada’s corporate lead auditor. The team also needed to ensure the rest of the plant’s workforce was on board.
“It’s really intended that you develop an energy management culture instead of being dependent on a couple of ‘champions,’ so to speak, or specific individuals that take on energy improvement projects,” says Taylor. “That works, but it’s hard to sustain that over the long term.”
Once the team was in place, they were able to get started. Since the standard is based on the “Plan, Do, Check and Act” approach (see page 18 for more information on this approach), the team started with a plan.
Next, they conducted a gap analysis to see how far they currently were from meeting the standard. What they discovered was that while they excelled in some areas (for example, when it came to documentation, they met 95 per cent of the standard) there were still a number of areas that needed work, including management review, design and operational control.
The next step was to come up with a work plan—a clause-by-clause list of ISO 50001 requirements, what actions they needed to take, whose responsibility it was and when the work would be completed. The end goal would be a comprehensive energy management system (EnMS) the plant could use to ensure continuous improvement both now and in the years to come.
One of the main things the team had to do was create a roles and responsibilities matrix for every position in the plant. That way, every role in the plant would have energy management written into the job description—ensuring it remains a priority no matter what.
“It makes it easy to communicate with everyone what their jobs are with respect to energy management,” Taylor says. “It helps them to understand all the different aspects of energy management, from monitoring energy to developing improvement programs to correcting any backsliding that may occur.”
Another item on the list was to create an energy management reporting system—or, rather, amend the plant’s existing (and already highly effective) safety hazard reporting system to include energy management.
“We have a system that allows employees to report a safety hazard and allows us to follow up and close that safety hazard concern,” says Taylor. “Rather than introduce yet another system, we simply added an energy category to that same system.
“If, for example, something is left running on the weekend that is not required and should be shut off, the employee can put in that suggestion and we will follow it through to closure.”
The road to certification wasn’t entirely without bumps, though. Because ISO 50001 was only in draft form when the Brockville plant began the project, the team had to make several changes mid-way when the standard changed.
“The standard was changing as we were putting together our energy management system,” says Muir. “We had to backtrack a bit to go back and learn the standard, then move forward.”
In the end, the team met its goal and the Brockville plant became the first manufacturing facility in Canada to achieve both the ISO 50001 international standard and the SEP designation. Not only that, but because it was able to demonstrate a 15 per cent reduction in energy consumption over three years (from 2007-2010), the plant achieved the platinum level of SEP certification, the highest level possible.
The bottom line
In addition to achieving ISO 50001 and SEP certification, the Brockville plant also saw a 6.7 per cent energy reduction in 2012 from the previous year.
But even more than the bottom line reduction is the continued improvement in managing energy throughout the facility.
“The coolest thing, from my perspective, is that we’re better at managing energy,” says Muir. “Managing energy is a process, just like making tape. We understand better how to manage energy, and we are finding more opportunities as a result.”
Another benefit is increased awareness among the entire facility of the need to conserve energy. “Energy can be taken for granted,” Taylor says. “It’s not that visible in a factory, where it’s not easy to know how much energy is being used and where it’s going.”
The facility has also increased technology to help manage electricity down to a much more granular level.
“We’ve made significant investments in measurement systems,” Taylor says. “We have a lot more than a utility meter at the entrance of the plant… we have additional submetering that goes to a lower level so we know how our electrical use is distributed and how our natural gas use is distributed. We monitor that and trend it over time so we can analyze our usage at a fairly good level of detail.”
That awareness has also spread to future planning, Muir adds. When planning to bring new equipment into the plant, energy efficiency is now an important consideration, instead of just looking at the cost of the equipment.
And, of course, having the new energy management system in place means the plant won’t plateau when it comes to energy conservation.
“We’ve been working on energy management improvement and energy conservation for years, and we’ve made many significant improvements, but there are still many opportunities,” says Taylor. The standard, which requires continuous improvement, will allow the plant to keep finding ways to boost energy performance.
From students to teachers
The pilot project in Brockville was so successful, that 3M Canada plans to roll out ISO 50001 across all its Canadian facilities, according to Hejnar. This year, two 3M facilities in Ontario—London and Paris—will go for certification.
“It will cement our energy management practices and help us with energy efficiency everywhere,” says Hejnar. “We have energy management teams and systems at every location, but ISO 50001 makes sure we can sustain our energy management systems at all our locations.”
What advice would the team in Brockville give other manufacturers planning to do the same thing?
“My advice would be don’t under-resource it,” says Muir. “It’s not simple and it’s not easy, so it does require good people. We had very strong people on the team, and it pays off when you put strong people on this project.”
And be sure to invest in energy management technology and tools, he adds.
“To do an effective job of managing energy, you have to manage how much energy you’re consuming,” he says. “It requires investment.”
Don’t forget any systems you might already have in place, adds Taylor.
“Leverage what you already have with regard to other standards and other things you do,” he says. “Your suggestion systems, your corrective and preventive action, your document management, your management review processes—anything that is part of your existing operation that is also required by the standard can be leveraged.”
Finally, don’t let the idea of standards certification scare you off the idea of improvement.
“Don’t be intimidated,” Taylor says. “It’s a very good standard.”
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Manufacturing AUTOMATION.