Improving Environment, Health, and Safety (EHS) management for manufacturers
Waste is inevitable. Nearly everything we do has an impact on the environment. From drinking bottled water to taking a flight or even wasting food, our daily actions affect global environmental, health, and sustainability (EHS) efforts. This is especially true in manufacturing, where there is heavy resource consumption and, often, a heightened focus on reducing environmental impact.
“Going green,” net zero, and other energy management initiatives have long been underway across multiple manufacturing industries. Still, manufacturers must continue innovating, evolving, and finding new ways to reduce their EHS impact. After all, manufacturers are resilient!
As you work towards tracking and improving your industrial EHS management, here are a few considerations for how Industrial IoT (IIoT) can help you reach your goals.
Waste elimination through condition monitoring
You pay for what you buy whether you use it or not. As such, it is critical that manufacturers find ways to optimize recipes, reduce waste, and incorporate recycling into their processes.
When it comes to waste management, however, it’s not always straightforward. Raw materials such as calcium, aluminum, iron, limestone, silica sand, and others are needed for the products that we use—and produce—each day. But there is not a limitless supply of these vital ingredients.
Excessive usage of expensive materials, over-filling your products, or scraping off-spec goods all drive up waste at your organization. Simultaneously, you are reducing your profit margins by driving up material or energy costs. Finding ways to reduce waste can both impact margins and help your EHS KPIs.
Let’s say we want to reduce waste during cement production. When limestone and clay are put through the crushing, grinding, and drying processes, natural variation is inevitable. Different moisture levels, human interactions, and even mother nature (e.g. weather conditions) can impact every batch. While variation in and of itself is not unexpected, there are many surprising IIoT tools available to manufacturers that can help teams make progress on their EHS goals.
Condition monitoring dashboards, like those from Braincube, allow process experts to track, adjust, and report on production progress. For example, a lab report might show that you can still meet compliance standards if you reduce the volume of expensive materials. Often, though, waiting for lab results can waste precious time.
Condition monitoring applications provide teams with better access to real-time plant conditions so they can react faster and improve operational efficiency.
IIoT allows you to view, analyze, and make changes in real time. It helps you decipher if you can add more filler, reduce the temperature to lower energy consumption, or implement an ideal supplier’s goods to reduce overall material costs. IIoT grants you access to dashboards that enable teams to make the right decisions based on current circumstances.
These digital tools make it possible to pull in lab reports, charts that compare the cost of materials to production needs, and live tracking of your current energy consumption—all within a single view. Not only does this save you copious amounts of time, but it helps you understand areas where you can reduce waste (and costs) without negatively impacting output.
Reducing unplanned downtime with advanced alerting
EHS standards aim to reduce consumption and keep employees safe. For many manufacturers, producing their products often involves hazardous chemicals, complex (and dangerous) equipment, and vast amounts of fuel for energy-intensive processes.
These are just some of the reasons why manufacturers rely on advanced alerting to keep employees safe, optimize equipment, and reduce energy.
In steel manufacturing, for example, running the furnaces is one of the highest production costs. If you overheat the furnace, you’re wasting energy. If you underheat the furnace, production times increase and you may miss your daily yield goals.
In this case, alerting could be set up to ensure optimal energy consumption as well as to reduce unnecessary downtime. For energy consumption targets and overarching EHS goals, you could use the Braincube Alerts App to trigger a notification that something such as temperature has changed.
For instance, let’s say there was a drastic drop in temperature from the beginning to the end of the steel melting process. From past experience, you know that this likely means that the furnace needs to be cleaned. You can set up an automated alert in Braincube that is triggered any time the furnace drops below or rises above your target temperature, informing the necessary teams that cleaning is required.
This type of alerting allows you to address smaller maintenance needs before a wider shutdown. Unplanned downtimes account for a large portion of cost reduction opportunities. Early indicators of malfunctions, quality scores, and other drifts can result in better margins.
Learn more about Braincube’s Alerts Application.
With IIoT, teams can work towards a more refined predictive maintenance plan. Bringing together sensor data with other IT and OT information can help you not only understand and report on what happened but also better predict and optimize processes moving forward.
Improving energy efficiency with IIoT
For many manufacturers, energy costs can equal 50% of their overhead. Reducing energy consumption and leveraging alternative energy sources are front-of-mind for many manufacturing companies.
IIoT can extend the work that you’ve already planned (or even completed) for your EHS strategies. It can also help your teams determine how to implement sustainability changes.
Consider the paper and packaging industry. Heating a biomass boiler is a significant cost of paper-making. Braincube helps these energy-intensive companies leverage AI to optimize energy consumption by asset, process, or other variables.
Digital tools, like Braincube’s Advanced Analysis App, can help uncover ideal set points for better energy efficiency. In fact, Braincube helped one customer identify new boiler settings that allowed them to reduce energy and simultaneously stabilize steam output.
These tools can be combined with automated alerts to further improve your EHS efforts.
Let’s say you need to limit a boiler’s NoX consumption. You could leverage Braincube’s Data Flows Manager to trigger an alert each time the boiler’s NOx is close to exceeding regulatory limits. From there, teams can choose between switching the energy source, slowing production, or some other alternative such as product line turnover. The right tools enable your company to shift focus as needed and stay within regulatory limits.
In addition to efficiency, alternative energy sources are another avenue that manufacturers are exploring. Sappi, a leading paper manufacturer, identified renewable energy sources for one of their mills. At this facility, they reduced “direct fossil-based GHG emissions, an equivalent of a 230,000-ton reduction in carbon dioxide annually, by turning biomass residues such as bark, sawdust, and woodchips into energy.”
Regardless of your organization’s EHS goals, IIoT is designed to simplify digital transformation and help you achieve better business outcomes.
IIoT helps you leverage production data for EHS initiatives and other cost-saving measures. You can go beyond data centralization and use Braincube’s suite of ready-to-use apps to build dashboards, run reports, dive into root cause analysis, or any other fathomable industrial data need.
Tools like IIoT are at the heart of industrial digital transformation, helping to propel your progress forward.
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