Kraft launches energy reduction initiative

Related tags Unilever Kraft foods

Kraft Foods has selected Rockwell Automation's Power & Energy
Management Solutions (PEMS) team to develop and execute a sustained
energy reduction initiative across all its manufacturing facilities
in North America.

This multiyear initiative is designed to facilitate Kraft's understanding and management of how energy is used within its plants and help the company identify opportunities to reduce energy costs through lower consumption. Rockwell Automation, a leading provider of industrial automation power, control and information solutions, is therefore helping Kraft adapt to new environmental expectations.

"Finding ways to reduce energy demand is fully consistent with our drive to achieve efficiencies in all aspects of our business,"​ said Fred Sherriff, vice president of manufacturing technical services for Kraft. "It is also consistent with our efforts as a responsible corporate citizen to reduce the environmental impact of our operations."

By using Rockwell Automation technology such as Allen-Bradley Powermonitors and Rockwell Software RSEnergyMetrix energy management software, manufacturers can automate load profiling mechanisms and analyse power quality issues such as harmonics, to identify energy consumption patterns.

"There's a common misconception that manufacturing-related energy costs are uncontrollable,"​ said Al Hamdan, product marketing manager, Power & Energy Management Solutions, Rockwell Automation. "On the contrary, quantifying energy consumption for various processes and identifying power quality problems will indeed arm manufacturers with good information that will pinpoint specific operations where they can optimise energy usage.

"We're looking forward to applying our expertise to help Kraft with this very important challenge."

The Kraft project illustrates just how much changing opinions concerning waste, energy consumption and emissions are forcing manufacturers to alter their methods of operation. Big food manufacturers such as Kraft need to be tuned in to these changes if they are to meet new government regulations, appease public opinion and make potentially substantial savings.

Unilever is another food giant that has actively been looking at ways to achieve energy reductions. A distribution centre in Coventry, UK for example has been fitted with state-of-the-art insulation and energy re-use facilities and has produced savings in refrigeration costs of some 40 per cent compared with traditional designs.

Much of this improvement comes from special mats beneath the cold store which re-use heat from the refrigeration plants. The company claims that the building has been designed to blend into the landscape.

Unilever claims that it is leading the industry in this respect - the Unilever Bestfoods UK (UBF) division has saved £1.34 million since 2001 by reducing energy use. The company, which manufactures brands such as Marmite, Flora and Pot Noodle, has cut carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 14 861 tonnes.

Government pressure has been a decisive factor. In 2001, the UK Government introduced the Climate Change Levy, a business tax on energy use. Companies who reduce energy consumption in line with government targets are eligible for an 80 per cent tax discount. To qualify, UBF must reduce energy use by 10 per cent at its manufacturing sites by 2010. Interim targets are set and reviewed every two years.

To meet these targets UBF has installed energy efficient equipment and reduced leaks of compressed air and steam. 'Switch it off' campaigns are used to raise awareness and motivate staff to save energy.

Since 2001 all but one of the company's nine sites have exceeded their interim target. This entitles UBF to sell CO2 allowances to other companies and this will generate further revenue. UBF expects to save a further £1.34 million by achieving its targets for 2004.

Related news