Energy Information System a Key to Driving Savings

by | Aug 3, 2010

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Like most leading manufacturing companies today, Eastman Kodak Company has an aggressive plan to drive energy efficiencies in our facilities that, in turn, yield substantial cost savings.

We started by setting some tough energy-reduction goals and announcing them publicly. Nothing like an “outside eye” to keep one on task.

Next, we made progress against those goals part of the criteria for our managers’ annual performance evaluations. Nothing like a little added incentive.

Beyond this self-imposed accountability, however, we’ve developed an invaluable aid in meeting our goals:  an Energy Information System (EIS) that provides real-time data about energy efficiency to virtually everyone in the organization, especially our operators, engineers and managers.

We took several months to create and install a software system that effectively linked five existing distributed control systems and four building automation systems at our Eastman Business Park in Rochester, N.Y.,  a 1,100-acre site that has its own utility power plant, water and wastewater treatment plants, and more than 100 buildings.

Today, EIS provides a real-time view of all sensor and equipment readings throughout the site, monitoring and recording over 100,000 plant-measured variables and displaying all of them in one easily accessible database. This is a far cry from the silo-like system of the past, when disparate and discrete reports were available only within individual buildings or plants and were rarely shared beyond a narrow populace.

The value of EIS, of course, is that the people working toward energy savings have real-time data on the effects of their efforts. They can try something and – almost immediately – see if it’s working.  If it’s not yielding good results, they can abandon it and move on to something else.

By the same token, if the tactic seems to be gaining traction, it can be quickly spread to other parts of their department or unit and shared with others throughout the organization. And, remember, everyone in the organization has access to all the data. So, if Unit A sees online that Unit B is getting good results in a specific area, it can determine if the same tactic would be applicable in Unit A.

EIS is valuable to users across the board, but particularly so to managers and process engineers. For example, managers can now detect problems as soon as they occur instead of waiting several days or longer for reports to be available. This means sources of utility waste can be identified and corrected as quickly as possible.

EIS’ real-time and historical trend displays give process engineers a broader view of plant and energy efficiency, information that is greatly beneficial in their optimization projects. Energy usage can also be compared across all buildings and, in fact, we have expanded EIS to monitor data from other Kodak buildings outside the site.

EIS has been a major factor to date in enabling us to:

  • Better correlate manufacturing energy usage to production volumes
  • Identify opportunities to implement an energy conservation mode between product runs
  • More effectively utilize fume hoods in our labs
  • Implement more effective “time of day” schedules for lighting and HVAC
  • Better optimize plant-loading operations
  • Optimize our boiler fans and improve exhaust head efficiencies
  • Better manage the balance of self-generation vs. purchased power

The result from all of these actions —  and many others like them  — is extremely significant. We have saved more more than $30 million in annual operating costs at this site alone, contributing greatly to a more than 40% reduction in energy usage worldwide since 2002.

For others interested in establishing a similar real-time system, I can offer encouragement and, perhaps, a few tips based on our Kodak experience.

At the outset, we made sure our engineers and our IT people were working together, and that has been a key to our success.

We also found it useful to have EIS housed within a system that our employees already use for other things. At Kodak, it’s within an HR system where people can enter their vacation time, check their pay stubs, and do many other things. And now they can access EIS from that familiar system with just one click.

Even though we’ve made EIS easily accessible, we found that a one-time, major announcement of its purpose and availability wasn’t enough to have employees incorporate EIS into their daily routines. In the initial stages, we put out reminders on a monthly basis. We cited some organization-wide waste reduction statistics for a given month, for example, and then reminded employees to check their own unit’s progress by logging onto this important new tool.

We were also quick to calculate savings attributable to EIS and make them known to provide positive reinforcement for the system’s value.

And, the fact that we had established specific waste and energy reduction goals was a great incentive. People have to know what they want out of information in order to have an interest in looking at it frequently.

Within the last few months, we’ve taken another step in the “incentive” department by announcing the Kodak Energy Saver Awards Program, which will formally recognize company office and manufacturing sites worldwide that achieve the greatest energy savings this year as compared with 2009.

In other words, it’s not a case of “if you build it, they will come.”  But, if you create such an information system and then promote it aggressively, its value will quickly become apparent to all.

Charles J. Ruffing is the Director, Health, Safety, Environment and Sustainability for Eastman Kodak Company, where he is also a divisional Vice President. His organization is responsible for compliance support to both operations and products worldwide, as well as for the coordination of sustainability initiatives throughout the company. He has held a variety of positions during his 18-year career at Kodak, including roles in operations support, product stewardship and support to business units. He is also a certified 6-Sigma Black Belt. Chuck’s training is in chemistry, with a B.S. from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois. He is a member of the board of trustees for the Central and Western New York chapter of The Nature Conservancy.

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