Owing to significant increases in the cost of energy over the past four years, some sectors, such as the automotive component manufacturers and high-intensity energy users, have made a commitment to improving energy efficiency at plants, according to government programme the National Cleaner Production Centre of South Africa (NCPC-SA).
The centre says the automotive components industry has been a front runner in working towards ISO 50001 certification in South Africa.
The ISO 50001 was adopted by the South African Bureau of Standards as SANS/ISO 50001 in 2011 and implemented as the national standard for establishing, implementing, maintaining and improving an energy management system.
The Industrial Energy Efficiency Improvement Project (IEE Project) is a multiparty initiative implemented by the NCPC-SA and the United Nations Development Organization (Unido). IEE Project national project manager Alf Hartzenburg says that ISO 50001 certification not only improves energy efficiency, but renders it sustainable through the systematic implementation of an energy management system.
The ISO 50001 standards pertain to the field of energy management, including energy efficiency, performance and supply; the procurement practices for energy using equipment and systems; energy use and the measurement thereof; and the implementation of a measurement system to document, report and validate continual improvement in the area of energy management.
“ISO 50001 is the only certification that requires both compliance with the standard and an improvement in energy management performance. It is also the only standard that impacts directly on the company’s bottom line, as it aims to reduce overall operating costs by driving down energy costs,” he says.
In the first quarter of 2014, two automotive component original-equipment manufacturers attained ISO/SANS 50001 certification. Johnson Matthey South Africa (JMSA) attained the certification at its catalyst manufacturing plant in Germiston, and Tenneco, in Nelson Mandela Bay, at two of its plants – Tenneco Ride Control, which manufactures original and aftermarket shock absorbers, and Tenneco Emission Control, which manufactures emission systems.
The NCPC-SA team trained and supported Tenneco and JMSA in implementing a comprehensive energy management system at their plants that, for example, led to JMSA saving energy equivalent to R7.7-million in its first year of implementation in 2012.
Both companies attained ISO 50001 certification, and significant energy savings, largely through their participation in the IEE Project.
The NCPC-SA also provides training, developed by Unido, to equip staff at both companies’ plants with specialised skills in energy management systems and energy systems optimisation.
According to Hartzenburg, an effective energy management strategy involves a focus on a combination of soft issues, such as behaviour changes and low-cost interventions, and systematic interventions that target energy-intensive equipment and processes such as the compressed air, steam, pumps, fans and motor systems.
In addition to the energy focus of the IEE Project, the NCPC-SA is also supporting automotive component manufacturers through resource efficiency assessments and an internship programme.
As the NCPC-SA is a government programme, the resource efficiency and cleaner production (RECP) assessments are offered at no cost to the participating company. Industry specialists identify and assess areas of improvement in a plant’s water, energy, materials use and waste management practices.
Automotive component manufacturing group Feltex is reaping the rewards of such an assessment, which in 2011 identified interventions that would reduce the company’s yearly energy costs by more than 40%. Implementation is ongoing and the company subsequently signed up all of its plants to participate in the NCPC-SA’s programmes.
In various plants countrywide, Feltex undertook RECP assessments. Without exception, the largest area of potential savings at the plants was energy, according to the NCPC-SA. Therefore, a group energy manager was appointed by Feltex and a group energy strategy was formulated and put in place, with numerous staff members also attending NCPC-SA energy efficiency training courses.
At two of its plants, both in Durban, Feltex hosted an NCPC-SA intern during 2012 and 2013. The NCPC-SA internship programme places engineering graduates in manufacturing plants to work on site to identify areas of potential savings of energy, water, materials and waste.
The interns are trained by the NCPC-SA before placement and then mentored by industry specialists throughout their placement period of six months. This not only adds to the skills set of the interns but also provides the host plant with a human resource to identify and, where possible, implement, resource efficiency opportunities on site, states NCPC-SA.
In 2013, interns at three automotive component plants assisted in obtaining savings – primarily in energy – collectively worth R925 000 a year.
Access to Financial Assistance
The implementation of energy and other resource efficiency interventions may make a components manufacturer eligible for a government incentive such as the Automotive Investment Scheme or the 12i tax incentive.
As a programme of the Department of Trade and Industry, the NCPC-SA assists companies in accessing these incentives through its programmes.