In 2015, operations managers and manufacturing engineers at the Green Bay Broadway (GBB) mill began getting a new monthly bill in their email box. It showed them just how much energy their equipment had used the previous month – and how much it cost.
According to Aaron Berg, manager – engineering for the Green Bay operations, the bills have been a way to raise awareness about the real costs of energy. “If we know where and how we're using energy, we can take steps to reduce our use and improve efficiency.”
The Broadway mill installed meters at key points throughout the manufacturing process to measure the actual consumption of energy used in that area – from steam, electricity, natural gas, condensate and compressed air. Previously, departments had been allocated a certain percentage of the mill's overall energy cost.
While metering technology isn't new, using it for both technical and financial purposes is. For example, a system was created to provide each operating area a monthly energy bill. By tracking trends and variations in energy use, the meters have helped identify opportunities to improve maintenance, reduce waste and make process improvements to cut down on energy use and/or reduce energy intensity.
Over a two‐year period, the mill's 12‐month rolling average energy intensity dropped by 7 percent. Nearly 5 percent of that improvement is attributed to actions taken and other projects completed to reduce monthly energy bills.
The success of the project has inspired the Muskogee, Oklahoma, tissue mill to look at the potential for using metering and billing to help reduce energy intensity.
But the GBB energy team isn't done yet. We're good at billing for use, and we're good at identifying issues and opportunities for improvement,' Berg says. “But we want to get to a point where we can manage our energy use in real time so we can continuously improve our footprint in this area.”