Benchmarking: the first step in saving energy in the plastic industry

Saving energy directly increases profitability. However, it is sometimes overlooked in cost control. By benchmarking yourself, you can find your energy saving potential, which could add up to 30% of your total energy consumption in the plastics industry. A more detailed view at the machine-level of energy use could unlock a whole array of benefits.

For many plastic processing sites,  energy costs are in the same order as profit: 6-8% of turnover. Saving energy therefore directly increases profit. Even though the potential savings could have a significant impact on profits, an EU study (2005) showed less than 5% of companies employ a full-time energy manager and only a little over 20% of the companies have performed an energy audit in the past five years. On a positive note, 40% hired an energy consultant and 30% monitor and review energy on a machine-level. In short, there is a lot more to save!

Benefits of benchmarking

It starts with knowing where you stand in terms of energy efficiency. Benchmarking your energy consumption per produced kg of plastic, so-called SEC, gives you an insight into how you are doing compared to your competitors. It also shows you how much potential there is to further reduce your energy consumption. This is both possible on a site-level and machine-level basis. For most common technologies (injection moulding, injection blow moulding, extrusion, extrusion blow moulding, rotational moulding, and thermoforming) these benchmarks are available, with most work carried out by Tangram.

  • Get insights into how you are doing compared to your competitors
  • Calculate the potential to reduce your energy consumption
  • Compare production lines within one site to each other

Calculate your energy-saving opportunities

Often, one starts with a site-level benchmark. Energy consumption at site-level can be divided into a base load and a variable load. The base load is independent of production volume. Most plastic production sites have an energy base load of 20% – 40% of their average total load. The variable load increases with increased production. This varies per processing technology as not all plastic processes are equally energy intensive. Injection moulding is one of the most energy-intensive processes with a process load of between 0.9 – 1.6 kWh/kg. Others have lower process loads: extrusion has a process load of 0.4 – 0.7 kWh/kg and the extrusion blow moulding load is 0.8 – 1.3 kWh/kg.

Calculate energy-saving opportunities Sensorfact

Figure 1: The performance characteristics line holds the key to understanding plant energy use.

More insights can be found when comparing machine-level specific energy consumption. In injection moulding, machine-level benchmarks are available for different technologies, like hydraulic and all-electric machines. Other benefits of having machine-level insights are the ability to determine energy cost per product, to compare identical machines with each other, make data-driven investment decisions, and allocate energy costs. Sensorfact can help you get an insight into your energy consumption on a machine-level for your benchmark. With these insights, our energy consultants can help you identify the most relevant energy saving opportunities.

Find out how Smart Energy Management can reduce your energy in an affordable way

Are you interested to learn more about Energy Management in Plastic Processing? This white paper explains three real cases where energy data is used to make smart investment and operational decisions:

– Old versus New: Does the new injection moulding machine use less energy compared to the old one?
– Brand A versus Brand B: What is the difference in energy consumption between Brand A and Brand B producing the same product?
– Small versus Large: Which machine should we choose to produce our product?



Written by

Mareike Brühl

Product Manager Energy Advice