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8 March, 2021

Conserving energy – in our  lives and in our factories

06 January, 2021

The Covid pandemic has forced many people to reconsider how they live their lives to conserve their mental and physical energies. Nikesh Mistry*, Gambica’s sector head for industrial automation, argues that we need to adopt a similar approach in the way that we use energy in industry.

Energy in all of its forms must be conserved. There are many aspects of daily life that can get exhausting. Studies have shown that both mental and physical energy are limited and they are arguably among the most valuable resources we possess.

Health experts and others are constantly describing ways in which we can conserve these forms of energy. Albert Einstein, for example, had multiple sets of the same clothes to prevent him draining his mental resources by having to decide what to wear. I can certainly think of a few people I’d like to recommend this method to! Sleeping is a key way that we can recharge our energy, but we also have to look at ways to help optimise what we do during the day.

According to the mental health charity Mind, more than half of adults have felt a significant impact on their mental health since the arrival of the global pandemic. This impact is evident, and the social cognitive ability is missed, whether it’s not being able to commute, to get out and about, or to interact with other people.

It is imperative that we monitor our stress levels to boost our energy. Plenty of advice has been published on how to manage mental energy, both at home and at work. Getting sufficient sleep, exercising, and taking frequent breaks are a few measures that Forbes magazine recently listed as being able to “help business leaders ensure that they are not only productive at work, but also functioning at their highest level when it counts”.

So, if we’re taking careful steps to prevent our physical and mental energy from being drained unnecessarily, then surely we need to take a similar approach in our manufacturing environments. More than 50% of the Earth’s electricity is used to power motor systems, but this can be reduced significantly and, in a similar way to with our mental and physical energy levels, there is more than one method that may be appropriate.

With connected technologies driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution, motor controls such as variable-speed drives and soft-starters can now incorporate functions such as energy monitoring, IIoT connectivity and predictive maintenance. Not to forget the added possibility of embedded security.

We also need to pay close attention to policy updates from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) regarding energy-related products (ErPs). In anticipation of new Eco-Design regulations that will come into force in the EU later this year, the Energy-Related Products policy team at BEIS recently launched a consultation to establish their suitability for the UK statute book. This consultation will be open until 27 January, 2021.

In addition, BEIS and Defra have commissioned ICF Consulting to undertake a research project to help inform UK priorities for ErPs from 2021.

The study will help to build an evidence base to inform the prioritisation of ErPs for policy development. It will assess which products have the highest environmental impacts in the UK, considering factors such as energy consumption, carbon emissions and demand of other resources, as well as those which may have the greatest potential for improvement in terms of their energy and resource efficiencies.

It is imperative that we conserve energy of all kinds. From our physical and mental well-being, through to the ways in which we run our factories, and to the products that we produce. There could be a huge global impact from implementing a circular economy and developing manufacturing and consumption loops that aim to cut waste and minimise the use of primary raw materials. By reassessing your energy wastage today, you can help the UK to eliminate all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and hit the net-zero target.

At Gambica, we have an Environmental Regulatory Group that discusses issues and policies, including directives and regulations regarding energy related products and more. If you would like to keep up-to-date and share knowledge with environmental regulation experts, then please get in touch using the contact details listed below.

* Gambica is the trade association for the automation, control, instrumentation and laboratory technology sectors in the UK.

For more information, please contact Nikesh Mistry on 020 7642 8094 or via nikesh.mistry@gambica.org.uk




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