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management is a hot topic these days, and that should come as no surprise. With
energy costs rising dramatically and environmental regulations tightening, the
pressure for industrial companies to reduce energy consumption is also
increasing. The cement industry is especially sensitive because it is one of the
major energy consumers in the
In many cement plants, energy amounts to as much as 50 percent of variable costs. But California Portland Cement Company is standing firm on reducing its energy costs and lowering process emissions by implementing a corporate energy management program. Among the many benefits so far, the program has saved the company a total of $3 million.
For more than
a century, California Portland Cement has been supplying customers throughout
"Effectively managing energy is an important part of our day-to-day operations," says chief executive officer Jim Repman. "As an EPA Energy Star partner, we place a high value on the environmental and fiscal savings gained from superior energy management."
This corporate-wide philosophy is the foundation that guides the other important elements described below.
At the outset, California Portland Cement assigned an energy manager and formed an energy management team consisting of plant and corporate personnel. The team represents several different departments and functional areas, including engineering, operations, maintenance, accounting, executive management and procurement.
In addition, the company enlisted assistance from the Energy Star program in developing a plan and putting the team together. The formal plan outlined goals, methods and specific energy savings target areas. Saving money was the motivating factor for the plan, and the team realized that even a 5 percent improvement could result in millions of dollars in energy savings each year. However, they also saw that this effort could save significant amounts of process emissions.
Now that the program is under way, the corporate energy team meets every two months and rotates to different facilities throughout the company. This helps them target savings opportunities at the facilities and allows local plant employees to participate. In addition, each major facility or division has its own local team to ensure that initiatives are implemented.
California Portland Cement also created a process energy team made up of process engineers who conduct periodic energy assessments on specific plant areas throughout the company. They take measurements, review operational data, calibrate instruments and write reports describing opportunities. The process energy team also brings in consultants and uses resources such as those available through the U.S. Department of Energy's Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) to conduct energy audits.
California Portland Cement has found that support and cooperation throughout the company, from plant employees to executive management, are essential to the effective implementation of the energy program. One of the sustaining elements is the commitment of its senior management. For example, the senior vice president of operations and the vice president of engineering participate in all corporate energy meetings. Through their participation, the energy program gains credibility and reinforces the need to meet company efficiency goals.
Because of the corporate emphasis on energy management, it is a regular topic at quarterly cost review meetings and frequently on the agenda at executive, staff and board meetings. Corporate managers also understand the need to recognize employees for their contributions to the program's success. To bolster buy-in among plant employees, California Portland Cement has initiated a pilot bonus program at one of its plants. Employees receive incentive bonuses tied to the plant's energy performance. And throughout the company, employees are recognized at awards luncheons and other events attended by the CEO.
Led by the firm belief that "you can't manage what you don't measure," California Portland Cement has put in place data-archiving systems to monitor energy performance at the manufacturing plants. The process energy team measures power consumption and fuel usage per unit of production at each phase of production; this data is reviewed at corporate energy and quarterly cost review meetings.
The company compares performance among facilities and also benchmarks against comparable plants in the industry. To do this, the process energy team uses software analysis tools such as Energy Star's Energy Performance Indicator (EPI) benchmarking software, ITP's MotorMaster+ and Process Heating Assessment and Survey Tool (PHAST) from ITP's suite of BestPractices tools.
California Portland Cement has implemented several initiatives designed to boost performance in specific areas of its operation. The initiatives give the company a systematic approach to managing energy use and encourage best practices. The key initiatives include these:
As its energy
management program evolves, California Portland Cement is finding many ways to
uncover savings and then implement energy projects. For example, in 2006, the
To help make projects more feasible, California Portland Cement also takes advantage of utility rebates. In the past two years, the company has qualified for more than $1.3 million dollars in rebates and has used these funds to implement energy efficiency retrofits and process improvements such as installing a state-of-the-art vertical grinding mill and a new, high-efficiency separator on an existing ball grinding mill at the Mojave plant.
Having a formal program allows California Portland Cement to focus on specific energy opportunities and take advantage of the various resources available. In just three years, energy management practices have been institutionalized and are now part of standard operations.
As a result of these efforts, California Portland Cement has already received several local, state and national awards, including Energy Star's Partner of the Year Award in 2005 and 2006. The company is also reaping rewards in terms of savings; so far, they amount to more than $3 million in energy costs savings and a significant reduction in process emissions since the energy program was formed. Among the best rewards, however, is the sense of pride among employees that they have accomplished something that improves not only the bottom line but the environment, as well.
Coppinger has been with California Portland Cement Company for 20 years and is
the company’s chief electrical engineer. He leads the corporate energy
management program and was instrumental in starting it in 2003. Steve is a
licensed professional engineer in the State of