Fraunhofer ISI develops an energy benchmark module for non-energy intensive enterprises

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI has developed a new benchmarking module for non-energy intensive enterprises so that they can compare themselves to their competitors in terms of efficient energy use. The module adds the aspect of energy efficiency to the existing industry benchmarking and helps both larger and smaller companies to identify ways to save energy and put them into practice. Initial results make it clear that the topic of energy efficiency is becoming more important: Many companies are already explicitly considering the criterion of energy efficiency when making important investments.

In order to remain competitive, companies have to be innovative, make strategic investments in good time and keep an eye on their spending. This not only applies to the development of products or services, but also to energy consumption, which is a significant cost factor for manufacturing companies. Against the backdrop of fluctuating energy prices, stricter energy and environment policies and a shift in society towards greater sustainability, the topic of energy efficiency is playing an ever more important role for companies.

In this context, the Fraunhofer ISI has developed a benchmarking module for energy that is available to companies from June 2016. The benchmarking objective is to improve companies’ knowledge about energy saving, raise their awareness of this topic and point out specific areas where they can save energy. Katharina Mattes, who coordinated the project to develop the benchmarking module, describes how companies stand to benefit: “The topics of energy efficiency and energy saving are becoming more relevant for companies because they free up additional capital that companies can then use elsewhere to enhance their competitiveness. This is confirmed by the figures from our studies: Every third larger enterprise in the manufacturing sector and almost every fourth SME consider energy efficiency when making future investment decisions about purchasing new machines or installations“.

The companies are given information about technical and organizational energy efficiency measures via the energy benchmarking module. In addition, they can classify themselves into comparative groups using company sizes or production batch sizes and measure themselves against their competitors. The energy benchmarking is not a substitute for an energy audit, but it does provide important first pointers when searching for ways to start saving energy.

Energy module based on a cross-section of non-energy intensive sectors

The module draws on data from about 400 companies from selected non-energy intensive sectors of the manufacturing industry. These data were collected in 2015 as part of the detailed survey “Rational Use of Energy in Production” and the “German Manufacturing Survey“ of the Fraunhofer ISI. The surveyed sectors include companies from rubber and plastics manufacturing or metalworking, producers of computers, electronics, optical products or electrical appliances as well as manufacturers of machines, vehicles and commercial vehicles.

The results show how important the topic of energy saving has now become in the non-energy intensive manufacturing sectors. Efficient solutions for compressed air systems are the most widespread of the energy saving measures implemented in production: Three of four companies using this technology use these kinds of measures to lower energy consumption. Anchoring the topic strategically in the company also plays a major role when introducing efficiency measures. Almost 40 percent of the companies have already set targets to reduce energy consumption. Last, but not least, it is essential to raise employees’ awareness of this topic in order to get them actively involved in energy saving: Almost every third enterprise provides their staff with information about energy consumption in everyday work routines. This includes energy-oriented machine displays, for instance, or information boards to visualize energy consumption.

The Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research ISI analyzes the origins and impacts of innovations. We research the short- and long-term developments of innovation processes and the impacts of new technologies and services on society. On this basis, we are able to provide our clients from industry, politics and science with recommendations for action and perspectives for key decisions. Our expertise is founded on our scientific competence as well as an interdisciplinary and systemic research approach.

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