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Manufacturing operations require the consumption of large energy volumes which is associated with significant financial burdens and adverse impacts on the environmental state. Hence, the application of methods aimed to increase the efficiency of electricity use in manufacturing settings has many positive implications.
The paper is devoted to the evaluation of recent research studies on the issues of excess energy consumption in manufacturing systems as well as the strategies for minimization of electricity waste. The conducted literature review revealed that there is a direct link between the implementation of different energy efficiency principles and favorable outcomes in organizational cost efficiency. Moreover, it is argued that the integration of energy efficiency principles into manufacturing performance is related to the creation of multiple intangible and long-term benefits such as improvement of environmental state and organizational sustainability.
Dynamic changes in the economic environment require modern business organizations to adjust to unfavorable circumstances through the reduction of operation costs. Manufacturers attempt to find new ways to decrease in operational expenditures to survive in a highly competitive market. Since electric energy is one of the major cost items in production systems, methods, and strategies for minimization of energy waste is of increasing interest among both scholars and practitioners.
Efficient electricity consumption is an important aspect of modern social performance, and it relates similarly to individuals and organizations because the irrational use of this natural resource can negatively influence human, social, and organizational well-being. Nowadays, many methods for energy waste reduction exist, and the purpose of this paper is the investigation of activities aimed to optimize cost efficiency and operational effectiveness in diverse manufacturing settings.
The objective of the following literature review is the identification of theoretical and practical implications of efficient energy use methods discussed in recent research studies. It is argued that operational procedures targeting the achievement of efficient energy consumption may have beneficial impacts on companies’ economies as well as other aspects of organizational performance.
Electric energy is a critical component of any manufacturing system. However, it is associated with the deterioration of environmental state and financial burdens (Mousavi et al., 2014). Multiple operations in production systems are run by machines which are usually characterized by low energy efficiency (Prabhu, Trentesaux, & Taisch, 2015). Such energy-consuming properties of machine tools implement operational methods for minimization of energy waste essential to organizational and environmental sustainability.
As mentioned by Mousavi et al. (2014), a manufacturing machine instrument is comprised of a few elements which consume electric power according to predetermined operational parameters. Based on this, it is possible to say that an effective design of the manufacturing process aimed to control and reduce energy consumption is of great importance. At the same time, the researchers argue that material flow determines the degree of electricity consumption by a manufacturing system as a whole “as it defines how machine tools interact with each other” (Mousavi et al., 2014, p. 12). Thus, consideration of every machine tool efficiency is as important to the minimization of energy waste as the analysis of overall manufacturing operations and production volumes.
A manufacturing unit is the basic element of a production system, and distinct combinations of a unit’s machine tool parameters, which define a machine’s behavior, can “produce different energy profiles” (Mousavi et al., 2014, p. 15). For the increased control over power consumption at the unit level, it is important to analyze present energy profiles to form a clear-cut view of electrical loads. It is observed that peak loads are associated with a greater carbon footprint “due to the use of more expensive and less clean sources” (Prabhu et al., 2015, p. 6996).
For the evaluation of amounts of consumed power, it is suggested to integrate an automatic measuring information measuring system which may generate some opportunities for organizational cost efficiency increase. The main task of a manufacturing enterprise is the redistribution of operational activities from the hours of highest electricity peak loads, which are also connected to physical time, to hours when the cost for a power unit is smaller. The analysis of the most energy-consuming operations and items allows companies to collect necessary data which can be helpful in the optimization of electric power distribution across a manufacturing system and selection of an adequate energy tariff (Prabhu et al., 2015).
It is observed that the successful alignment of such factors as electricity consumption, time of machining, and manufacturing outputs with the input values of operational speed, machine feed, and depth of cut (in turning operations) leads to the increase in energy efficiency (Anand et al., 2016). Moreover, the researchers argue that due to inherent differences in texture, density, and hardness, different materials used in manufacturing operations can influence the outcomes of energy-saving efforts. For example, mild steel requires less frequency of rotation (250,71 rpm) for optimization of power consumption while speed for aluminum rotation should be higher (575,78 rpm) (Anand et al., 2016, p. 12). The findings may have especially significant implications for manufacturing settings where non-automatic activities are performed.
As it was mentioned above, consideration of material movement and production volumes is important for energy waste reduction at the level of the whole manufacturing system. Davies, Thomas, and John (2014) claim that the transportation of materials, work-parts, and other technical elements constitute a significant portion of overall manufacturing operational processes.
Minimization of material movement, as well as optimization of supply chain and distribution activities, contribute to the decrease in transit time in production and cost flow (Davies et al., 2014). The researchers suggest that through the improvement of supply chain management and integration of new sustainability principles into organizational performance, i.e. by adopting Just-In-Time (JIT) production approach that requires manufacturing unit restructuring and proximate location of facilities, it is possible to increase operational flexibility and, at the same time, contribute to environmental protection (Davies et al., 2014).
The literature review helped to reveal that the adoption of a smart approach to the management of task flow and material flow, as well as the improvement of a unit and whole-facility operation design, leads to the increase in energy efficiency and the consequent cost-efficiency. However, it is possible to say that optimization of the electric power distribution system through the realization of energy efficiency principles requires technological advancement and the transformation of managerial strategies.
In their study, Prabhu et al. (2015) state that the alignment of energy efficiency with manufacturing system effectiveness is one of the major challenges that may occur throughout the transition to structural changes and optimization. Organizational transformation of transportation modes and operation modeling, elaboration of the effective strategic decisions, rearrangement of facility locations, as well as many other energy use optimization initiatives, are commonly regarded as cost- and time-consuming practices.
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However, researchers make significant efforts attempting to identify the relationships between the development of corporate competitive advantages, and manufacturers’ environmental performance. And research findings make it clear that the implementation of environment-oriented practices, including reduction of energy waste, may significantly enhance many organizational indicators.
The reviewed studies propose that the minimization of greenhouse gas emissions is one of the major objectives included in the efficient energy consumption policy. The application of automatic information measuring systems, the rearrangement of operational scheduling according to energy load indicators, the improvement of the unit and facility design, and the use of environment-friendly transportation methods is of great significance for organizations because, through the limitation of environmental footprints, manufacturers fulfill their social responsibilities and increase the organizational capacity of stakeholder value creation (Prabhu et al., 2015).
Moreover, enhancement of vehicle utilization is regarded as an optimal way to integrate environmental values into the fulfillment of the economic mission, and, at the same time, it is observed that consideration of transportation modes and facility locations leads to efficient utilization of resources (Davies et al., 2014). In this way, by improving environmental performance, the companies may attain higher operational cost-efficiency.
The conducted literature analysis helped to identify the methods aimed to reduce energy waste in manufacturing settings as well as the potential benefits which a company may attain through their implementation. It is possible to say that benefits gained through the application of energy efficiency principles are multidimensional. The problem of environmental instability has gained significant importance during the past decades, and the consideration of environmental protection nowadays becomes a social value.
Therefore, by attempting to optimize electric energy use, manufacturers, first of all, contribute to the improvement of environmental state and add value to the business operations and services. The inclusion of environmental concerns in corporate culture demonstrates a respectful attitude of an organization towards its stakeholders (customers, employees, local communities, and business partners). As a result, organizations may develop the competitive advantage of customer attraction and enhanced reputation that ultimately leads to better financial results and performance sustainability.
Anand, Y., Gupta, A., Abrol, A., Gupta, A., Kumar, V., Tyagi, S.,… Xu, W. (2016). Optimization of machining parameters for green manufacturing. Cogent Engineering, 3(1), 1153292. DOI:10.1080/23311916.2016.1153292
Davies, A., Thomas, A., & John, E. (2014). Minimising transportation in manufacturing supply chains. International Journal of Sustainable Engineering,7(2), 144-153. DOI:10.1080/19397038.2013.801531
Mousavi, S., Thiede, S., Li, W., Kara, S., & Herrmann, C. (2015). An integrated approach for improving energy efficiency of manufacturing process chains. International Journal of Sustainable Engineering, 9(1), 11-24. DOI:10.1080/19397038.2014.1001470
Prabhu, V. V., Trentesaux, D., & Taisch, M. (2015). Energy-aware manufacturing operations. International Journal of Production Research, 53(23), 6994-7004. DOI:10.1080/00207543.2015.1100766.