Recent data from May’s factory output figures show that manufacturing in the United States is leveling off , after the biggest gain in three years. While total industrial production is unchanged, factory output and factory utilization are beginning to decline. So what are the key takeaways from this information?
The damage isn’t confined to one industry. While the declines include less motor vehicle production, business equipment and construction supplies also fell, key indicators of other sectors of the economy. Even excluding vehicles, factory production fell, and no acceleration seems to be on the horizon. Perhaps businesses are waiting for better information on tax and regulatory reforms. In these instances, it is important that manufacturers look to their energy efficiency in order to maintain their profits.
The energy used to create a product is one of the key inputs under a manufacturer’s control, but sometimes it doesn’t really feel that way. Energy costs can skyrocket and it is difficult to think of what we mean by “efficient” when we have to have the energy required to create the product line. Here is where manufacturers can really look to the quality of their equipment to help with the bottom line.
Inefficient equipment both costs more to run and wastes the energy it uses. Consider a basic steam heater, a staple in everything from oil refineries to paper and pulp and even ketchup production. Older equipment requires more energy to get the temperature to the level required to make the product or batch fall in with production guidelines. In the meantime, energy is wasted – leached out – by the way in which the heater works. Mixers are another great example. An old-style tub version wastes energy at an alarming rate, not to mention the various ingredients lost to “burn off” in the traditional process. A static mixer, on the other hand, such as those Komax specializes in, has no moving parts and is self-contained. Customers have seen energy reduction (savings) at a minimum of 25-30%, sometimes much higher.
While we cannot control the circumstances surrounding manufacturing, we can absolutely control the quality of the equipment in our facilities to help us continue to meet our profit expectations and create stability in an unstable environment.