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Size doesn't matter in the fight to save energy
WHILE the big energy consumers are constantly striving for greater energy efficiency, SMEs too are following in their footsteps. Ardentec Singapore, an SME, has carried out energy savings measures from 2012, achieving total savings of about 349MWh per year, or S$69,800 per year.
Incorporated in 2006, Ardentec Singapore Pte Ltd, a subsidiary wholly owned by Ardentec Corporation, provides professional semiconductor testing services in Singapore. It has set up a dedicated task force team to drive energy efficiency projects with the support and commitment from the top management.
"While we can't change the big external environment, especially as Singapore is a small country with limited resources, we should change it internally with what we can control. Reducing our energy consumption determines how we use energy more efficiently. This will involve optimisation of our processes and adopting new technology. Energy efficiency is one of the most cost-effective ways to address the challenges of energy cost, energy security and global climate change," says David Hsiao, general manager, Ardentec Singapore Pte Ltd.
Given Singapore's highly competitive environment, ensuring that a company - especially an SME with limited resources - remains profitable has become very challenging, says Mr Hsiao. "However, we should not stop thinking and should dare to dream big to go from a small red dot to big blue seas."
Mr Hsiao says every company should allocate a certain budget for an energy-efficiency project annually. "It shows the full support and commitment from top management team. This will allow our employees to study their existing operating systems from the viewpoints of 6M, ie, manpower, machinery, materials, methods, measurement and mother-nature and from there to develop the actions which can be taken to lower the operational cost. This will eventually increase our profit margin."
He suggests implementing a profit-sharing scheme with employees so staff members know that they will be eventually rewarded for their contributions.
Mr Hsiao says introducing a project proposal scheme would be helpful. "The results achieved from the project proposal, once it is justified, the recognition should go to the project team. This can encourage the changing of people's mindset - not to be afraid of adopting new technology and ideas while the existing systems are functioning properly. Making improvements and changes is the only way to achieve energy savings."
Further, he suggests encouraging employees to attend external seminars, give presentations at conferences to share and to learn the best practices in the industry, proactively invite vendors, contractors, consultant to the company to introduce their new technology and information sharing with employees.
Highlighting some of the energy efficiency improvement initiatives taken by Ardentec Singapore, Ho Kok Pin, operations director, says: "In 2014, we enhanced the existing water treatment system to a new technology - Smart Release System. This system does not require electrical supply and it also helped to reduce human manual job and auto controls the chemical to ensure a better water quality. Ardentec Singapore has achieved in total an annual energy savings of about 349 MWh and annual cost savings of S$69,800."
Besides, the company also optimised the workload of its water cool chiller by replacing the torn and damaged cooling tower infill to a new one. The company further partitioned some of the unused clean room areas and installed sliding door and screen curtain at its warehouse to prevent the waste of aircon cooling while goods are received and shipping is in process.
At the same time, the traditional fluorescent lights were changed to LED type lighting.
Mr Ho says that with the implementation of the energy efficiency projects, several benefits were achieved. There was an improvement in the company's profit margin via reduction of overall operational cost. At the same time, the company played its part in promoting corporate social responsibility through the reduction of waste and carbon emission. Also, staff knowledge was enhanced through energy-efficiency sharing sessions and in-house awareness training programmes.
"I think the Energy Efficiency National Partnership (EENP) Conference & Award is a good platform, where we can learn and share with industries the best practices," says Mr Ho.
"Meanwhile, we also need to enhance the mindset of our employees through some events promoting energy saving, conducting regular awareness training programmes and sharing of energy efficiency related articles through our company magazines."
Says Mr Hsiao: "We managed to demonstrate and prove that our 3P policies, ie people, profit, planet can be sustained and can coexist without compromising any one of them through better energy efficiency management. This achievement marks the beginning of our next chapter. While ensuring our profitability, we are committed to developing our people and protecting our planet through energy-efficiency management."