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Energy Efficiency; An Overlooked Resource

Energy Efficiency; An Overlooked Resource

The market bakeries operate in is increasingly competitive and regulated. The cost of raw materials, water and energy is rising and the majority of experts agree this will continue for the foreseeable future.

As a result, you have to pass on the extra costs to your customers, decrease your margins or find a way to reduce your costs.

Bakeries varying in size from a small corner shop to large-scale commercial manufacturers spend between $5000 to more than $500,000 per year on energy. However, by measuring the current situation and implementing the right improvements this could be reduced by as much as 32 per cent without affecting the quality of your products.

Energy efficiency initiatives can unlock considerable benefits to your bottom line. However, these benefits are often overlooked by owners and managers due to the incorrect perception that energy efficiency involves sacrifices or excessive capital costs. In fact many benefits can be achieved by operational adjustment alone.

Reducing your energy consumption has a great side-effect; it reduces your carbon emissions with clear environmental benefits. Surveys show there is growing awareness of this by consumers in Australia with currently 82 per cent of adults indicating they are concerned about the environment. On this basis, opportunities exist in being able to show you care about more than just running your business and, are instead, showing you are part of their community.

What can you do today?

There are several steps bakeries of all sizes can undertake to reduce their energy consumption. How, when and to what degree will depend greatly on your current situation and therefore that is where we will start.

• Monitoring:

Without a full understanding of how energy is used in your organisation, it is difficult to do anything about it. As such, the first step in successfully managing energy consumption is to profile the way it is currently used in specific situations.

At Areous, we always advise our clients to invest in a suitable commercial or industrial-grade data acquisition and monitoring system before any further steps are taken. The data produced by such systems can be processed and from it, detailed information is produced that reveals how energy is used – such as where and when the peak loads occur, how long they last for, what trends might exist and where possible savings may lie.

• Operational improvements:

As mentioned earlier, operational improvements are an excellent way to achieve real results with negligible capital expenditure. For example, staff incentive schemes can be put in place or the work flow can be put under the microscope. Can your baking equipment pre-heating period be reduced? Can you re-arrange your workflow to avoid a cool down period?

• Equipment upgrades:

When buying new equipment for your bakery it is important to keep in mind a more expensive high-efficiency model is quite likely to offer great overall value than a low cost option. There are of course always risks of manufacturer’s claims not being realised in reality, this can substantiated by checking in with the ‘health’ of your energy usage shown by your data acquisition system.

When making the decision on an upgrade, care has to be exercised. Of course, consider the major points: Overall energy consumption, insulation, double glazing, standby modes, accurate temperature controls and quality of the seals. However, don’t forget the indirect benefits: Batch sizes, the amount of heat that your air-conditioning system has to work on, maintenance, ease of use and so on.

• Lighting:

If your bakery is working 18 hours per day, six days per week, your lights are on for approximately 5400 hours per year. Savings on lighting are usually one of the options with the shortest payback period. However, the real benefits come from the details – the amount of heat your lighting produces affects your air-conditioning system, the type of lighting and its colour temperature can affects people’s ability to work and your customer’s perception of your business.

In addition, location, operating hours and surroundings of your bakery may allow you to utilise more natural daylight. When changing the layout of your bakery, give consideration to where your lights are positioned, lights behind equipment will not contribute much to your work area.

• Heating and cooling:

It cannot be overstated the importance of correct climate control. A 1°C change can amount to a 5 per cent change in energy consumption for space heating. Consider using alternative heaters to heat small areas instead of heating large spaces of air, seal up any areas where air can leak to the outdoors and isolate where possible work areas where the temperature changes frequently, such as near the ovens or freezers.

• Layout:

The energy efficiency of your bakery will be greatly influenced by your layout. Depending on the type of product, equipment used, volume produced, type of business and several other factors, your efficiency will be affected. Equipment that performs opposite functions, such as a freezer and oven, should not be placed closely to each other. Products from a prover should be moved as quickly as possible and not be allowed to adjust to room temperature. In a similar way, products from blast freezers in transfer to a storage freezer should not be allow to warm up either.

A successful energy management program is a complex initiative and I advise you to contact us for further information or a discussion about your options.


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