I’ve Got the Power

The current water industry landscape can be likened to a complex jigsaw puzzle, where various pieces like supply chain inflation, escalating CAPEX scheme costs, interest rate hikes, and surging wholesale energy prices act as challenging obstacles impeding your progress. 

Juggling all these pieces isn’t easy, but each challenge presents an opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and strategic thinking. It’s time to get all your pieces of the puzzle in shape and gear up for this new normal by doubling down on energy initiatives.

Picture this: your current wastewater operations are transformed into a powerhouse of energy efficiency, all without the need for a big cash injection. Sound like a dream? It’s not! One of our recent energy projects saw a 9% boost in generation during the initial phase, with no capital investment needed. 

Maximising Generation

The industry trend is shifting towards innovative ‘gas to grid’ solutions, yet many businesses continue to rely on Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems for energy generation. The challenge lies in optimising the potential of biogas, a task that often gets entangled in the complexities of wastewater production. It’s not uncommon for companies to struggle with outdated processes and equipment breakdowns, leading to significant energy inefficiencies.

Do you clearly understand the energy losses you incur daily through inefficiencies in your process? While some losses, like gas flaring, may be glaringly obvious, others lurk beneath the surface…

By overlooking these hidden losses, you might miss substantial opportunities to boost your energy generation capabilities. In a recent diagnostic assessment, we unearthed over £1.5 million in potential annual energy savings, underscoring the importance of addressing these inefficiencies proactively.

Issues Impacting Generation

In our experience, addressing the issues impacting generation falls into four categories:

1. Production Planning

Setting targets is like mapping out a treasure hunt for your business. It’s not just about hitting numbers; it’s about creating a roadmap that leads to success. Think of it as the beginning of a thrilling adventure, not the destination. Sure, we make assumptions along the way, but hey, life is full of surprises, right?

Excelling in production planning is all about timing. Production planning should take place over three-time horizons, each focusing on delivering the business plan target, not individual site targets.

Just as in a jigsaw puzzle, each piece represents a crucial aspect of the overall picture. You strategically place interconnected pieces to unlock the energy within. The secret lies in keeping an eye on the big picture and asking yourself, “Can we create something extraordinary by rearranging pieces or enhancing what we already have?”

So, how’s your planning process holding up? Are you embracing change and continuously fine-tuning your strategies through formal reviews? Revolutionising the way you approach production planning and continually evolving your planning process is critical.

2. Asset Maintenance

Asset availability is critical to optimising the energy generation process. Whether managing site or CHP assets, every component plays a role in the overall generation output.

To maintain a high asset availability level, maintenance teams must stay on top of scheduled maintenance tasks and effectively address any unexpected failures. Unfortunately, many utility companies struggle with maintenance backlogs that directly impact energy generation. 

Are you facing a similar challenge with maintenance delays? Have you calculated the extent of generation losses due to asset availability issues? It’s essential to prioritise planned maintenance activities to prevent such setbacks.

Our work in this area has demonstrated that by focusing on key maintenance areas, it’s possible to unlock an additional 15-20% capacity, which can help clear existing backlogs and enhance overall energy generation efficiency. 

If you want to optimise your asset maintenance strategies and boost energy output, read our Maintenance article to learn more.

3. Site Operators

Have you ever noticed how things seem to unravel when certain key team members take a holiday? We all have those unsung heroes in our organisations – the site operators who have a wealth of experience and can navigate the ins and outs of the site with ease. They are the ones who know exactly what to do when assets fail like they have a secret manual tucked away in their back pocket. But what happens when they are suddenly out of the picture? What if they hit the jackpot in the lottery and leave tomorrow? That’s when the real challenge begins.

While these seasoned operators are invaluable, relying solely on them can be risky. Imagine if they were to disappear tomorrow – how would you replace that wealth of knowledge and expertise? The most successful businesses have a trick up their sleeve – they ‘codify’ this invaluable experience into standard operating procedures, create dashboards, set control limits, and develop contingency plans. By documenting these best practices and training new team members accordingly, savvy organisations can ensure that operations run smoothly, even in the absence of a key player.

So, the question remains – is your operation dependent on a handful of experienced individuals, or do you have a robust system in place that ensures continuity and efficiency? Investing in visually documented processes and standardised protocols mitigates risks and paves the way for continuous improvement. It’s time to shift from relying on individual brilliance to fostering a culture of collective expertise.

4. Management System

In the world of organisational performance evaluation, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and dashboards reign supreme. All organisations have a treasure trove of data at their fingertips, but the real magic lies in the synergy of the management system.

Specialist teams like maintenance crews and planners play their parts diligently, but often, they’re like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle scattered on the table without the big picture in sight. By fostering collaboration among these diverse teams, connecting the dots between their individual efforts and the overarching goal becomes not just beneficial but crucial for sustained progress and growth. 

So, do your KPIs shed light on energy insights? Are your teams singing in solo acts, missing out on the symphony of the big picture? It’s time to tune into the power of unified processes for streamlined and impactful decision-making.

Optimising Assets For Energy

Have you ever had that moment when you realised your energy bill had skyrocketed, only to discover that the culprit was an innocent-looking immersion heater left on by an unknown person? Yeah, we’ve all been there. 

We need more than just the basic data to make informed decisions about our energy consumption. It’s like checking your smart meter app at home to see how much energy you’ve used – interesting but not actionable. To truly optimise our energy assets, we need to delve deeper into the nitty-gritty of which appliances are chugging the most power and why.

When it comes to optimising assets for energy efficiency, there are four key areas to consider:

So, as you ponder your next move in the energy optimisation game, ask yourself: 

  • Are your teams equipped with the right data for actionable insights? 
  • Is your energy dashboard keeping tabs on the heavy hitters in your asset lineup? 
  • Have you noticed a surge in ‘Spend to Save’ initiatives for those energy guzzlers? 
  • Do you have a game plan to trim down that energy consumption? 

Let’s power up our efficiency game and give those energy-sucking assets a run for their money!

If you would like to know more about our experiences with improving energy generation performance with UK water clients, please email dean.wheeler@reson8.group