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A winner's views on optimising energy use

Mr Shahril checking the performance of one of his company's air compressors.

FOR the manufacturing industry, energy efficiency is all about optimising energy use, says another Outstanding Energy Manager of the Year at this year's EENP Awards, Mohamed Shahril Bin Jaffar. He is the manager of the plant engineering, environment, health and safety department at Panasonic Appliances Refrigeration Devices Singapore.

"In our company, we implemented bio-fuel and solar photovoltaic systems as we adopt green manufacturing practices and work towards environmental sustainability. When energy usage can be optimised, the reliance to produce and to invest financially becomes lesser, hence enabling the efforts to be cost-effective," he says.

In Panasonic's factory setting, energy consumption is categorised into two segments: fixed and variable energy. Fixed energy consumes a standard amount of energy in a factory, regardless of the production quantity. It is typically generated by lightings, air conditioning, water-cooling systems, etc.

"Local companies can consider reducing the fixed energy by installing energy-saving devices like LED lightings, motion sensor activation, energy saving air conditioners, etc," notes Mr Shahril.

Variable energy is consumed by machineries that relates to production level or quantities. The measurement is based on specific unit rate termed as power used per unit of output. Local companies can monitor and track their specific unit rate of their factory and also to look out for energy wastage. For instance, the machinery power can be switched off during break times for staff.

"We have installed energy saving devices, namely, inverter control for cooling towers, water pumps and LED lightings in recent years to minimise energy usage. We also have an energy saving team which conducts periodic internal energy audits to applaud energy saving efforts and ensure proper energy usage. For example, usage of electricity, gases, water and steam is recorded and monitored monthly," says Mr Shahril.

The company's two latest projects were in 2015 and 2016. The first was the installation of Panasonic's 2.86MW HIT photovoltaic solar panels on rooftops for the Bedok South factory. This helps to generate 7 per cent of the plant's total electricity requirement. This was done as a solar leasing project in partnership with Sunseap Leasing Pte Ltd.

Secondly, the company has also replaced six high-efficiency air compressors, which improves the overall compressed air in specific unit rate. In addition, the quality of air increases in the premise. And this was done under a financial scheme in collaboration with Sustainable Development Capital Ltd.

The company's energy conservation team is made up of staff with different backgrounds who are experts in their own fields. And to further develop in-house capabilities, it is also setting up an independent team to undergo training with a focus on combustion efficiency.

Mr Shahril says that there are new plans for promoting energy efficiency going forward. These include expending solar energy generation estimated to be additional 1MW for the Gul Road factory rooftops and improving combustion for furnaces and casting machineries to obtain energy optimisation. "We are exploring an approach to generate income via the 'Interruptible Load and Demand Response Schemes'," he adds. "In Singapore, companies are paid to switch off non-essential loads and be financially compensated for participating in this scheme. We are working with an Australian company, GreenSync, which provides a software and automation solution that will allow us to participate in such schemes."

Further, he points out that the facility department in the company can be set up to be a revenue-generating centre instead of being cost centre. The "revenue" in savings is achieved from reducing the company's total site load and the amount can be put back into future energy efficiency projects.

Mr Shahril feels happy and grateful on being named as one of the winners this year. "This award is also a reward for my team and management's efforts in energy conservation, which is recognised on a national level. My journey in attaining Singapore Certified Energy Manager (SCEM) (Professional) is a long process and I hope this award gets to motivate other SCEMs (Associate) in pursuing a higher reach and attain SCEM (Professional) too."

Panasonic Appliances Refrigeration Devices Singapore, established in 1972, specialises in the manufacturing of energy efficient inverter compressors for fridges, water coolers and vending machines. As a set-up that is vertically integrated, its capabilities include in-house processes which range from iron casting, machining, component parts stamping, welding, motor core stamping and winding, and final assembly. The annual output capacity of the factory is seven million pieces. Its manufacturing plants are located in Bedok South and Gul Road.