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Energy awareness: it’s the little steps that count

07 January, 2020

In his first column since becoming Gambica’s new sector head for industrial automation, Nikesh Mistry* considers energy efficiency and climate change. Taking small steps, he believes, could help us achieve the goal of zero-carbon emissions.

Hello there! Before I delve into the main topic, I’d like to introduce myself. I am Nikesh Mistry, superseding Victoria Montag as the new sector head for industrial automation at Gambica. It’s a pleasure to get acquainted. 

Now that the formalities are out of the way, I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you a question which has frequently arisen during my early days at Gambica with regards to carbon emissions: “Are you doing your bit?”. A rudimentary question indeed, but although we’re becoming increasingly conscious of the damage being done to our environment, we’re still light years away from achieving what we’d consider “best practice” for achieving zero-carbon emissions.

My attention was struck at Gambica’s recent annual lunch, during a thought-provoking panel discussion on climate change. I gathered that many manufacturing organisations are endeavouring to ensure that their factories and office buildings are cutting their carbon footprints. But does this extend beyond purchasing energy-efficient products?

Energy efficiency not only has a benefit to the environment, but substantial cost savings can also be made. The running cost of a motor easily outweighs its initial purchase costs. Ensuring that motors aren’t oversized is imperative, but there are also methods – such as switching a motor on or off, or controlling its speed – which can increase its lifespan. A 75kW motor turned off for just an hour a day could save over £2,000 per year! 

Many who are campaigning to reduce emissions aren’t necessarily following best practice. Lots of us still own diesel cars that we use for short journeys, leave lights on, use plastic pods in coffee machines, or boil more water than is necessary. If we’re not acting domestically, we’re even less inclined to make changes industrially.

I believe that simply buying a hybrid car is not enough. It’s how you drive it that determines whether you are improving energy efficiency. Studies by the Centre for Sustainable Systems in Michigan have shown that when driving at 50 mph or more, every 5 mph increase in speed results in paying approximately 15-30p more per gallon. It’s not merely buying or not buying something which is pertinent, but how we operate it, and the domino effects of our actions. 

Do we feel our small contribution won’t make any difference in the macrocosm we live in? Are we negligent to the greater effects of these issues?

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