Opportunities exist for beverage, wine and beer manufacturers to save tens of thousands of dollars a year by taking actions to improve energy and materials efficiency.
The manufacture of beverages and alcohol typically has multiple operations and processes. Even the most efficient process line can be improved to reduce process cycle times, reduce wastage, improve quality, and ultimately reduce costs. Improvement actions could include plant re-layout based on improving material flow and productivity, to redesigning a process line to eliminate or reduce process wastage or energy used. A small Victorian brewer reduced raw material usage by 3 per cent, saving $60,000 per year by changing their processes to have fermentation and conditioning occur in the same tank, eliminating spill over of grain during their milling process.
Packaging is a considerable cost for beverage and alcohol manufacturers. Consider reducing packaging, redesigning packaging to use fewer materials or so it can be reused or work with supply chains to introduce reusable packaging. There is a domino effect when you reduce packaging. More compact packaging will result in a reduced material cost. The amount of warehouse space for storage can be reduced and further savings can be achieved by redesigning pallet configuration and fitting more products onto a pallet.
Many beverage manufacturing businesses are surprised to discover the value of products damaged during bottling or packaging processes. In addition to the cost of the input materials, there are handling and energy costs associated with this wasted finished product. Bottling and packing are key processes that can be looked at as part of improving overall operations. Consider engaging a consultant to identify opportunities and make recommendations for priority actions.
Significant product losses can be suffered as it is pumped through pipelines, particularly if material is pushed with water. Alternatives are line pigging or nitrogen pumping. While this may be expensive, there could be a business case for the investment once the extent of product losses is better understood. Payback periods for this type of action can be less than two years.
Take the time to look at energy bills to understand how much energy is used. Talk to your energy retailer to check that you’re on the best tariff. Shop around; there may be better deals in the market to save you money.
These activities can account for up to 50 per cent or more of the energy usage of a typical beverage manufacturer. Maintaining refrigeration equipment, regular checks for leaks, upgrading heat exchangers and insulation, and installing or upgrading thermostats, are some of the actions that can be taken to reduce energy use. A NSW winery halved its energy usage by actions like these.
Taking action to save water can lead to significant energy savings – energy is used to pump and to heat or cool water. Look at energy and water bills so you have a better understanding of what the business case would be for making improvements. Regular maintenance of boilers can save 5 per cent in fuel costs. Businesses that have implemented steam trap monitoring and maintenance programs for example, have seen pay back periods of two years or less. Placing your boilers on annual maintenance programs can achieve up to 5 per cent savings in your fuel costs.
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