Train Your Plant Manager on Energy Efficiency

Oct. 20, 2010
Present your energy program in a way the plant manager can quickly comprehend.

This is the last of four articles on energy training. The box to the right (Related Content You May Like) contains links to the previous three installments.

We've already dealt with getting your process specialist, operators and project manager to contribute to energy efficiency. There's one last person you must get involved in the efforts — your plant manager.


I went to dinner recently with a refinery manager of a large gulf coast complex. The conversation ranged from safety issues, projects, personnel, budgets, and an assortment of problems and opportunities. He was a busy man — hundreds of things at the plant commanded his attention. However, I was mildly surprised when the conversation turned to energy. He knew exactly where his plant stood relative to the industry and was making strides in reducing energy use. "The plant efficiency has improved 3% versus last year," he boasted. I thought to myself, this is a well-trained manager.

To get maximum benefit from your energy program, you must present it in a way that captures the plant manager's attention while taking little or no time. Organizing the information in a repetitive fashion has benefits.

I find the best presentation method is to set up a system of information. The system is meant to give the plant manager the right dose at the right time.

Daily report: I would start first with the daily report your plant manager sees each morning. This report, which usually includes everything about the plant, should contain two numbers that summarize overall consumption of energy. These numbers must be something the manager is used to looking at. The first is straight energy units in a certain time period (BTU/year, Kcal/hr, MW, or kJ); the second is the relative number, based on product, feed or whatever the most common method you use (BTU/lb, MW/klb, etc.). Present these two numbers daily or weekly and display them with a reference number — either the goal for the plant or the budgeted amount.

Weekly progress report:  Keep this to no more than two paragraphs so the plant manager can read it in less than 3 minutes. Follow energy consumption information with any explanation of why the number is what it is. Then tell the plant manager what energy-related items happened the last week and what should be expected next week.

Monthly progress report: Here, provide more detail about individual systems and include more information about projects, maintenance and energy concerns. If you have an energy team, put in items from team meetings. The report should never exceed one page. It doesn't have to break down each individual energy contributor but large groups (steam, electrical, furnace efficiencies, etc.). The monthly report is a look back of what was expected last month and what really happened. It also tells the plant manager what to expect in the daily and weekly reports for the next month.

Quarterly report: Hold a 60-to-90-minute meeting with the plant manager and other key staff. Include presentations by the energy team on implementations that took place during the quarter. Also mention any failures or setbacks, the reason they occurred, and how they will be fixed. Discuss new problems and pitch ideas for new projects. This is your chance to show any progress and get feedback. Use the meeting to discuss budget concerns and show that the energy team has spent capital well. Don't throw quarterly meetings together at the last minute. It may take time to compress material into less than 90 minutes. If you plan ahead, your report will be more concise and will keep the attention of the audience.

Fiscal year report: Here, show the entire program's accomplishments and outline how energy projects will be implemented during the new fiscal year. Include what you want to see in the next budget and your justification for that spending. Present problems that were found and resolved, projects that were implemented and whether they met expectations, and give individuals or teams time to present what they did to save energy.

By improving the way you present information, you stand to make your plant manager a better advocate for your energy program.

Gary Faagau is Chemical Processing's Energy Columnist. You can e-mail him at [email protected].

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