7th Annual Northwest Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit

7th Annual Northwest Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit

Bryan Kilgore for Zondits, January 27, 2015

Every year the Northwest Industrial Energy Efficiency Summit conference held in Portland, Oregon, is a call-to-action meeting where industry, utilities, and energy professionals gather to collaborate with the goal of reduced industrial energy intensity.

This event, sponsored by the Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon, and NEEA (Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance), among others, provides a place for discussion and networking as well as presentations and panel discussions on the direction of the industrial sector with firsthand energy efficiency project success stories.

The conference is split into general sessions and breakout session presentations, both of which are in the form of either an individual presenter or panel discussions. Various companies and utility programs run exhibit tables for attendees to peruse in between presentations.

The exhibitors this year included:

  • Bonneville Power Administration
  • Cascade Natural Gas
  • Combustion Control/Proctor Sales
  • Conserve Energy LLC
  • Creative Lighting Solutions
  • Dent Instruments
  • Energy Trust of Oregon
  • GHD, Inc.
  • InteriorTech
  • Miura Boilers/GVA
  • NEEA
  • Noble Americas Energy Solutions
  • Pacific Power
  • Portland General Electric
  • Shell Energy
  • Wonderware

Applying New Energy to Workforce Development for Manufacturers

Gardner Carrick, VP of Strategic Initiatives and the Manufacturing Institute, gave the keynote presentation, on the subject of workforce development for manufacturers. One of the critical challenges facing manufacturing and industry is in employing a qualified work force. This is important for energy efficiency, since highly skilled workers are needed to run and maintain an efficient facility. More training programs partnered with industry are required to adequately prepare workers in today’s highly automated manufacturing. Public perception of manufacturing jobs also requires some change. Surveys have shown that although the US public favors local manufacturing, most parents would not encourage their children to look for employment in manufacturing.

Build Employee Engagement and Reduce Energy Costs through Energy Treasure Hunts

Bruce Bremer of Bremer Energy (and a former Facilities Manager at Toyota Engineering & Manufacturing) gave a presentation on “Energy Treasure Hunts.” An important strategy to find and solve energy efficiency opportunities is through these Energy Treasure Hunts, or kaizen events. Kaizen is a Japanese concept involving the idea of continual improvement. In terms of energy efficiency, it focuses on no-cost or low-cost opportunities to eliminate waste, improve productivity, and reduce energy consumption ‒ the building block for all lean manufacturing strategies. This kind of event, sometimes called a kaizen “blitz,” assembles teams of employees with different functions and backgrounds within the company, including engineers, maintenance, equipment operators, sales, and upper management. This allows a company-wide engagement about energy, waste, and productivity improvements. The different perspectives also improve the ability to find unnecessary operational practices that continue only because they’re the status quo. Kaizen events generally take place over several days, with periodic follow-up events to ensure that changes are maintained. Toyota, a pioneer of kaizen continuous improvement methods, reduced their energy intensity by 21% and total energy use by 9% in 2012 alone.

Breakout Sessions

The breakout sessions are used for smaller discussions and informational panels geared for industrial facilities interested in learning about programs available in the Northwest and to learn about energy efficiency best practices at facilities in the region.

An overview of northwest programs and resources breakout session allows companies to learn about the available programs and talk directly with representatives from local utilities, state energy offices, and program delivery organizations. This year the following programs were available to discuss questions about the resources they provide; Portland General Electric, Bonneville Power Administration, Energy Trust of Oregon, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, NW CHP Technical Assistance Partnership, Oregon Department of Energy, Washington State University Energy Program, and the Oregon State University Industrial Assessment Center.

The second breakout session was a panel discussion on the importance of energy baseline and tracking moderated by Cascade Energy, Inc. Representatives from KapStone Paper and Packaging, Stimson Lumber, and Darigold involved in energy management at their companies discussed the benefits, challenges, and importance of developing a whole-facility baseline to help implement strategic energy management. The panel discussed using simple key parameters, like energy per production unit, to help determine the current conditions and improvement goals. They explained how developing energy end-use pie charts can help pinpoint areas of focus based on the largest energy users, and how potential behaviors leading to inefficiency can be identified with the help of daily energy intensity reports.

Final Thoughts

This event is a great resource for Northwestern industrial facilities to network with energy efficiency program representatives and vice versa. Additionally, there is an opportunity for graduating students who are interested in the sector to network with potential employers.