Powering Up After COVID-19

Powering back up after lockdown isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. In March 2020, food and beverage businesses began to shift operations in response to COVID-19, with measures taken across Australia to enforce social distancing and reduce on site occupancy.

Now, as state governments ease restrictions, you might be thinking about resuming business as usual.

But before you do, there are some important things you should be aware of to reduce your energy costs and avoid additional charges.

Below are some quick and easy tips to help your business power up operations back to normal.

Start on the front foot
If you are still on partial or total lock-down, this is a great opportunity to revisit your processes and consider energy efficiency upgrades or a new energy contract.

Consider an energy agreement that connects you with the true price of energy so that you can align your operations with times when energy is cheaper.

Get the timing right
Powering up during times of high demand puts a strain on the energy system and can lead to higher energy costs.

Even though you may be powering back up to normal levels, you may need to pay increased tariffs due to the demand you’re putting on the system.

Some equipment takes longer to start up, so start early. This may include a tap beer glycol system, post mix system, refrigeration and freezing units, as well as heating and air conditioning.

Automating your processes can help too. This may include setting your heating or cooling to come on at a certain time or using the self-clean function on a combi oven when demand for power is low.

Know your operations
Start with business critical operations and work your way towards full operations.

With patron limits, this could mean opening just one dining area midweek, offering a limited menu to operate less back of house equipment and simply using one front of house service area.

Take it easy with lighting
Your first instinct might be to turn on all of your lights, but lights can be a major energy drain.

When powering back up to full capacity, only light the areas you need and switch to energy-efficient lighting like LEDs and CLFs.

Keep it cool
Restocking fridges to full capacity will help them to chill faster and use less power to maintain temperatures.

For fridges that have been hibernated, position these in well-ventilated areas away from sunlight or heat from other equipment.

Powering your venue back up in stages will help your business avoid spending more than it needs to on power and will also help support the energy system.

Get ready for the future
If your energy agreement is up for renewal, use this time to look for a more flexible solution.

Energy rates have fallen to four year lows so choose a solution that reflects this change.

If you want to make the most of prices continuing to fall in the future, consider a plan that allows you to move to the new lower rate.

Get Power Active
If you’re looking for a flexible energy plan that connects you with the real price of energy and allows you to make the most of falling energy rates — it’s time to get Power Active.

Visit the Flow Power website to find out about the ways Power Active is helping Australian businesses save on energy costs. Click here.

Wineries can save with Caps Australia compressed air audit

Compressed air is a critical utility to many industries, including the wine industry, performing a range of wine production functions including grape crushing, pressing, cooling, heating, filtering, drying as well as receiving and bottling the end product.

Its versatility and convenience make compressed air essential to a diverse range of applications, with approximately 15 per cent of all industrial electricity consumption in Australia going to generating compressed air.

What many businesses do not realise, however, is just how energy intensive compressed air is, with almost 90 per cent of the electrical input energy being converted to waste heat.

This means only 10 per cent of the remaining energy is compressed air energy.

Additionally, compressed air systems are often poorly set-up, maintained and controlled which creates further inefficiencies, it is not unusual to find a system using only 50 per cent of compressed air productively.

If a system is not running as well as it could, a business could be using more electricity than is required.

Wasting energy is wasting money. Fortunately, a professional audit and assessment of a system can reveal surprising opportunities to reduce energy consumption and overall business cost.

Caps Australia has developed a fully proprietary auditing package, designed to give a full view of a business’s compressed air system.

It is non-invasive, low-cost and simple to undertake yet provides highly valuable insights into the operation and efficiency of a system.

Typically, Caps expect to find savings up to 15 per cent, and it’s not uncommon to find savings beyond 50 per cent in electricity with payback well within two to three years.

Recently Caps were able to generate some excellent outcomes for one of its customers.

The implemented solution included replacement equipment along with a number of improvements to the system, including a 20 per cent reduction in electricity consumption, with a payback on capital investment within two years.

There was also improved air quality and 30 per cent savings in long-term maintenance costs.

More stable pressure to the customers’ demands, meaning greater and more consistent productivity was also a factor.

Having conducted more than 500 compressed air audits across Australia, Caps has uncovered millions of dollars in potential savings for customers.

The company’s team holds a highly respected voice in the compressed air industry due to a professional approach, industry-leading equipment, processes and specially developed air audit software to ensure consistent and accurate results.

Caps is offering wineries an obligation-free air audit with the Caps team performing an efficient health-check of compressed air systems.

Companies will receive a report complete with expert recommendations that are geared to deliver long-term savings and improved efficiency.


Data reveals how businesses can reduce energy costs for all Australians

Flow Power modelled the energy spend of 670 businesses and what could have happened had they all been purchasing wholesale power last financial year.

It would only take 670 businesses to drive investment in 1845 megawatts of renewable generation.

If 670 businesses had purchased wholesale power last financial year, they could have saved up to $97M in total.

This figure more than doubles when businesses sign onto corporate renewable PPAs, which could have delivered savings of up to $195M in total.

READ: Combine demand response with PPAs for maximum saving, says research

At the start of 2018, demand response could have cut South Australia’s power prices by 2.7c/kWh.

Businesses forgoing fixed-rate contracts for wholesale prices could expect significant price reductions.

Flow Power directors and senior business managers unpack the numbers in a webinar on the 9th of October.

Join the webinar here.

Better Power Businesses that are tapped into the wholesale power market are more in tune with its highs and lows, and are best placed to respond to peaks in demand and soaring prices.

These businesses have the power to keep power prices down and the lights on for everyone – even during periods when demand is at its peak.

In the first quarter of 2018, South Australia’s business could have reduced energy prices by 2.3c/kWh for the entire state, simply by choosing to power down during peak price events.

Drive Investment Businesses have a critical role to play in the investment in Australia’s growing pipeline of renewable energy projects.

If 670 medium and large-scale businesses across Australia made the decision to contract renewable energy through corporate renewable Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), this would drive investment in more than 1845 MW of renewable generation.

Lower power bills Businesses sign up to buy a portion of the output of renewable generators for periods of up to 10 years through corporate PPAs pay significantly lower prices and benefit from price certainty for the life of their contracts.

If the 670 businesses analysed by Flow Power signed up to renewable corporate PPAs, they would have saved up to $195 million in total on energy costs in the last financial year.

Without PPAs, choosing to buy wholesale power still delivered significant savings of up to $97 million in total. Matthew van der Linden, managing director of flow power, said Flow Power knows that the traditional fixed-rate model is no longer meeting Australian businesses’ needs for cheaper, more transparent power solutions.

“The benefit of connecting businesses to the true signals of the energy market, either through PPAs or wholesale power, is twofold.

We see businesses save on what can be their most costly expenditure – energy – as well as everyday Australians benefitting from greater investment in renewable generation and lower energy costs delivered by wholesale demand response,” he said.

“This can be achieved without new policy or government intervention, all it would take is businesses choosing to take more control over their power.” said van der Linden.

David Evans and Nathan Epp from Flow Power will discuss the numbers at the webinar on the 9th of October.

Register today.

SEW-Eurodrive equipment helps Yalumba Winery save on energy costs

At a time when energy costs continue to spiral upwards, saving energy is not just good for the environment, it is important for the commercial bottom line.

According to Jesse Auricht, engineering manager, Yalumba Winery, decisions taken when planning a bottling upgrade at the plant have turned out well in both regards.

He said the choice of energy-efficient SEW-Eurodrive Movigear mechatronic drive units to keep the conveyor lines and bottles moving, contributed to this positive outcome.

The winery is serious about reducing energy costs and monitors energy consumption continuously. Typically, half the cost of energy is based on network charges, so it is important to avoid any spikes in consumption as the wine bottles are filled, capped, labelled and packed in the bottling plant, said Auricht.

“In the energy market, 50 per cent of your cost can be dictated by a half-hour event,” he said. “If you hit that peak once, depending on the time of day, you’ll see an ongoing energy cost increase.”

John Gattellari, national industry specialist – food & beverage, with SEW-Eurodrive, said the Movigear units are designed to minimise the use of electrical power and help manufacturers make savings. Movigear complies with efficiency class IE4 (super premium efficiency) and reduces energy costs by up to 50 per cent, due to the high efficiency of all its components.

Planning pays off
Once it was clear that the plant needed refurbishing, the owners decided not to rush in. Starting with their own design concepts, they issued a tender for detailed design and implementation of the project, and awarded it to Foodmach, a specialist Australian provider of machinery design, manufacturing and control services.

Working closely with Yalumba, Foodmach designed and installed the new conveyor and line control system. The revamped system consisted of the original bottling line with new controls, conveyor and palletisers, and a second line with a new de-palletiser, filler and packer.

SEW-Eurodrive’s engineering and customer service, together with energy efficient Movidrive mechatronic drive system and high precision servo motors and Movidrive controllers, were fundamental in obtaining the desired result.

In addition to saving costs by reducing energy consumption, the upgrade also led to a safer work environment and a reduction in noise.

Noise amplification and reduction
Another key issue was that of noise, especially given the running speeds of the conveyors. Line 2, which is used for wine only, runs at 12,000 bottles per hour. “You get glass bottles banging into each other at that rate and it’s noisy – and potentially dangerous as well,” said Auricht.

Trevor Burgemeister, process control technician at Yalumba, said that to alleviate the noise and danger of uncontrolled collisions, the system had to be designed to detect when bottles were about to collide. When this happened, it set a maximum collision speed.
Auricht said to achieve this, the drives needed to be accurate, reliable, efficient and controllable. As for the noise component, he said that the Movigear is so quiet it’s negligible in comparison to the rest of the system.

These characteristics, along with past performance and a strong relationship, were major factors in the choice of SEW-Eurodrive.

“They have been a solid partner of ours for a long time. It’s a recognised brand and we’ve had a lot of success,” he said.

No pressure
The key to reducing the noise is creating a pressureless line. In this case, pressure refers to the accumulation of bottles at any point on the conveyor system. It occurs when the conveyor is transporting more bottles than the individual machine process rate. If a processing machine for filling, capping or labelling is operating at a slower speed than bottles are being delivered, the bottles bump into each other, and that familiar sound of glass against glass can be heard. On a grand scale though, it’s not a pleasant clinking sound that you might hear in a restaurant. At a rate of thousands of bottles per hour, it’s more of a cacophony.

Auricht said that if the conveyor keeps running when this happens, the pressure continues to build up. This means energy wastage, inefficiency and noise, along with wear and tear on all the conveyors.

On Line 1, which is used for many different bottle types ranging from sparkling wine with a cork, to table wines with screw tops, the flow is between 5,000 and 9,000 bottles per hour. While the aim is zero pressure on the conveyors, the processing machines require a degree of pressure to function correctly.

To achieve this, the conveyors on this line run at set speeds, while the line’s process machines vary their speed as necessary to maintain head pressure of between five and eight bottles.

In the Foodmach, line control system speeds are controlled by software programmed according to a “recipe” that varies for each production variety.

The recipe specifies which processing machines are required for the product and also their operating parameters. Recipe data – speed, diameter of bottle, gap between bottles and the like – is communicated from the programmable logic controller (PLC) to the SEW-Eurodrive gears and units. These are calibrated so that the speed of the conveyor is set correctly. Burgemeister says that connecting the motion-detecting sensors to the motors and gear units, in order to manage the flow of bottles, was a simple operation. “It was just a matter of plugging the photoelectric in,” he said.

Poetry in motion
Correct flow is set up at the start of the operation on the Foodmach de-palletisers, where thousands of bottles per hour are fed into the two bottling conveyor lines. At this point, several mini conveyor lines, running side by side and at different speeds, cause bunched-up groups of bottles to be fed into a single line. Complex programming, communicated to each Movigear drive in the system, makes the operation look easy. For Auricht, this is what good engineering is all about. He describes the process with a single word – poetry.
“This was probably one of our most successful projects undertaken – both in timeframes and outcomes,” said Auricht. “In the scheme of things, the premium for the high-efficiency, low-energy drives was not that much. Looking back on it now, it absolutely was the right decision.”