Environmental business advisor Alasdair Dalzel-Job gives his top tips for maximising resource efficiency when restarting production after shutdown.
Now that global supply chains beginning to recover from COVID-19 disruptions, an increasing number of manufacturers are restarting production following temporary closure.
If you’re one of those companies, you should be taking a number of steps to make your workplace COVID-19 secure. However, it’s important not to forget about other crucial steps to ensure a smooth and resource efficient return to production. Following on from our tips for factory shutdown, here are the key elements to add to your checklist when starting back up.
- On re-opening your stopcock you should flush through your hot and cold water systems to minimise the risk of legionella build up. Remember to turn taps off after this process – it’s an easy thing to miss.
- Test all boiler systems on-site to ensure that hot water is available for hand washing during operation. A well-maintained boiler will operate more efficiently and reduce operating costs.
- Switching the electricity supply back on should be done in a phased manner to prevent the overloading of switchgear. Take a zoned approach where possible by isolating equipment, lighting or compressed air pipework that isn’t needed.
- If you’re a large electricity user, you may need to speak to Electricity North West to discuss the best time of day to restart your equipment.
- Electricity prices are currently low, so now is a good time to tie yourself into a cheaper electricity contract. Better still, use it as an opportunity to consider a 100 per cent certified renewable electricity supply.
- Any timers and controls on equipment that was switched off or adjusted when shutting down should now be returned to normal settings. If you plan to split shifts as part of your COVID-19 safety measures, adjust settings accordingly.
- If your factory has been in full shutdown, electricity data from your supplier (or sub meters if you have them installed) will show you your base load consumption. If it looks higher than expected, we can help you to review where unwanted usage may be occurring.
Motors and drives
- Avoid putting motors and drives under undue pressure when starting them back up again. Putting them under full load straight away could cause breakdowns, so start light and build up load gradually.
- Motors with a variable speed drive are much less likely to fail on start-up. If a fixed speed motor should fail, consider upgrading to a high efficiency unit as rewinding old motors will reduce efficiency even further. In the right setting, a variable speed drive can significantly improve efficiency and greatly extend the life of motors – and they are eligible for our Energy Efficiency Grant.
- During shutdown the lack of pressure on compressed air systems may have exposed leaks on rubber hoses, or condensate may have collected in pipework. Drain the system and ensure a full leak check is completed when the air lines are re-charged.
- It’s also a good idea to clean filters and air intakes as this will reduce energy consumption.
- Now may be the time to reset any heating controls to match your new operational demand, for example by adjusting timers to weekend or holiday programming.
- If you’re taking a zoned approach to restarting production, consider if any parts of the building can remain unheated or at frost protection level.
- Before shutting down you may have rationalised refrigeration use to save energy. Once refrigerators are turned back on, check that temperatures are stable – variation from set points may indicate refrigerant gas losses. Consider servicing if required, or an upgrade with our Energy Efficiency Grant.
- Now is also a good opportunity to ensure condensers are clean and unblocked, evaporator air flow is unobstructed and vibrating pipework is repaired.
Materials and waste
- Complete a full stock-take and consider selling or donating any material that is now surplus to requirements or close to expiry.
- When reinstating waste collections, think about any additional recycling or waste management needs you may have as a result of COVID-19, such as PPE. We can put you in touch with the right waste contractors if needed.
- Be aware of any routine maintenance visits you may have cancelled or delayed during shutdown and reschedule them as soon as possible.
For more advice on maximising efficiency and environmental performance, contact our Resource Efficiency team.
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