A management system is a framework to effectively manage the interactions between hardware, software and people.
People are the main target of any management system. They are the source behind any interaction: between people, through commands to machines or even behind the so-much-praised and often-mentioned automated processes - guess who programmed the automation? Yes, people.
Why do I emphasize this? People often think energy management is about managing machines or even energy itself. It’s not, the energy and machines are just fine, no need for managing, they are there, ready to serve (with a bit of maintenance at least) and do whatever we need them to do. It’s the people that mess things up – hence the reason we need to manage people.
So, an energy management system, also known as ISO 50001. Ok, you may think, I have this binder on my shelve in the office, that’s what you mean, right? Nope, that’s the biggest mistake currently done everywhere: A management system is NOT a defined set of rules written down in a binded version printed or digital. That is only a part of the system.
What really matters much more is that these rules are communicated and what matters most is that these rules lead to ACTION. That is where the system comes alive, is tested and can show how much value it actually generates, how much work it can save. Yes, you read that right, a good system is all about making your workload less, not more.
Here is where you can fail in an existing system:
- Definition and scope: Rules and Processes are not defined or not sufficiently defined
- Communication: People who should know about the rules, have not heard about them, or in other words not every stakeholder knows the rules that pertain to him/her.
- Training: Rules are not applied, people don’t know HOW to apply them or have not got enough practise to apply them.
- Control: There is no control system in place to ensure that the application of rules continues (otherwise over time it WILL stop).
Do you notice: no mention of giga joules or kilowatthours or LED lighting replacement or frequency drives? Yes, as I said above, the management system is ALL about people not about things. Well, so why do most companies ask their energy technician to do a management job?
Two good news:
First of all - we people know systems. We are good at them. Look at our accounting system or better even, our money system. It works almost impeccably, across the globe. Or how we produce cars, or any modern products, computers, robots, software…or our traffic system. Literally all of what humans do in interactions is system based and we know WHAT do do, WHEN to do it and we DO it.
Or look at quality systems: We employ an army of people who check other people’s work and no one questions that. Why is that? Because the results speak for themselves and the systems are well established with lots of experience available.
But there is this new kid on the block, the energy management system, and that’s an unknown, a stranger pushing into our family. So rather than inviting him in, we turn our back on him and hope he will go away. He won’t actually. He is just getting all sorts of legislative support across the globe to make sure he can stay. The sooner we can be friends with him, understand his needs and communicate them to our existing friends the better we will do and benefit all from this new addition.
Your choice: be an inovator or someone who blocks progress or even sabotages it. Or you can do what most people prefer: wait and see. Then if one side wins, you quickly join them and might even say, you knew it all along. That’s okay with me, as long as it’s the side supporting energy management.
Second good news is that energy budgets are some of the very few budgets in the world of finance that include waste and usually we don’t even know how much that energy waste is. An energy management system should help you quickly define and reduce the waste. After all - you don’t pay your workers for the time they spend sleeping, do you? Okay, so why don’t you apply the same rules for your machinery, lighting etc. In any mid-size company there is enough energy reduction potential to completely finance the design and construction and maybe even the practising the use of the system with this money.
Keep in mind, your goal should be to oeprate the system efficiently as soon as possible to get your energy use down to the needed minimum. If your goal is to build the system, you can spend years meddling with that task without having any or only small benefits.
Piece of advice
If you have a large company, get an experienced consultant on board for building the system and training your staff to use it, if your operational energy waste (think conservatively 10% of your energy use) is the same amount as the cost of getting 6 -12 months external support, ask your financial director if it is better to get that external support now or work for the next 2-5 years to build a functioning system with your own resources.