Increased productivity requires a bigger plant. A bigger plant requires more energy. Or does it?
It’s no secret that to compete on the world stage, New Zealand businesses need to be more productive. Productivity is often linked to investment in new technology and a bigger plant, but increasingly New Zealand businesses are realising that it can also come from improved energy efficiency. Dominion Salt is one New Zealand company that is getting more out of what they put in, and energy efficiency has been key to their success. As a result of business growth and increased demand, the company looked to expand. They undertook a major plant upgrade of their Mt Maunganui site, increasing capacity at the plant by 63% to a potential 76,000 tonnes of salt a year. Instead of simply enlarging the facility and installing the extra heating required, Dominion Salt put the principle of energy efficiency at the heart of the solution. They commissioned engineers Aurecon to come up with an innovative way to recover waste heat and put it back into the production process. The result was a multi-award-winning project which improved overall energy efficiency by 48%, reduced natural gas consumption per tonne of salt by 33% and cut CO emissions by more than
2 3,000 tonnes per year. Energy savings started at $500,000 a year and are expected to grow to $900,000 a year once the site hits full capacity. Alongside the bottom-line benefit of lower energy bills, improved energy efficiency has also raised their profile – both of which are helping Dominion Salt to compete internationally, with growing demand from customers in 15 countries across Asia and South America.
The bottom-line benefits are helping Dominion Salt to compete internationally, with growing demand from customers in 15 countries across Asia and South America.
Many other New Zealand businesses could be getting these results. It’s estimated that New Zealand firms could save a total of $1.6 billion in costs every year through energy efficiency, thanks to technology upgrades and processimprovement. Alongside those cost savings comes improved competitiveness, greater productivity, CO mitigation, and
2 better health and safety. A recent Productivity Commission report found not only is our productivity low compared to our main trading partners, but productivity growth has been slow since 2000, compared to other OECD economies. Fortunately, it is an issue that business leaders have on their radar. Productivity rates as the third highest priority for industrial and commercial businesses (after employee safety and longevity), according to EECA’s Business Research Monitor (December 2013). Research by Statistics New Zealand indicates that more New Zealand businesses are turning to energy efficiency as a way of improving productivity. The research found that from 2009 to 2012, economic activity in the industrial and trade sectors increased by more than 6%, while energy consumption grew by only 3%. In other words, companies in manufacturing, construction and transportation are getting more out of the energy they use. The report also showed that the proportion of businesses with energy management initiatives has grown too - indicating more business leaders are turning on to energy efficiency. If you are thinking about kick-starting your business’s performance and productivity, find out how energy efficiency can align with your business goals, and deliver much more than you expect.