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Why ISO 50001 makes clear business sense

Industry giant Coca-Cola Enterprises has been among those to lead the charge in adopting ISO 50001 and has acknowledged real benefits in the focus it brings to energy saving. This endorsement is a clear sign that ISO 50001 is the standard in energy management. Mark Burrows, Energy Solutions Specialist at Siemens Industry highlights the business case for adopting the ISO 50001 standard requirements.

Some food manufacturers may dismiss ISO 50001 as they already carry the accreditation of ISO 14001 and do not see any further benefit to be gained by working towards this new framework. However, it is crucial to understand the differences offered by the two standards and the further benefits brought about by ISO 50001.

With a focus on recycling waste, water and pollution, the environmental standard ISO 14001 should be just one part of the sustainability strategy for food manufacturers. ISO 50001 enables those in the food processing industry to establish a robust framework designed to enable them to improve the way they manage energy and it can work together with ISO 14001 or stand alone. This system is recognised to deliver bottom line cost savings, enhance commercial opportunity and set the foundations for continuous improvements.

There are four key areas where the standard is beneficial:

- Providing a strategic framework
- Boosting CSR credentials
- Driving employee engagement with energy efficiency
- Benchmarking energy management performance.

Providing a strategic framework

By setting requirements to run an efficient energy management system including energy policies, planning, legal requirements as well as energy reviews, baseline and performance indicators, the standard helps manufacturers take a systematic approach to continually improving their energy performance. This enables manufacturers to achieve bottom line cost savings through year-on-year energy consumption reductions.

Boosting CSR credentials

The boost to a company’s CSR credentials from achieving ISO 50001 is also worthy of note, particularly in the food industry, where the CSR credentials of every company within the supply chain are often under intense scrutiny. This makes the business case for achieving the standard even more clear in this sector. Not only does it demonstrate a tangible opportunity to save on the bottom line, but it also provides evidence of a company’s commitment to energy efficiency and subsequently reducing its carbon footprint.

Driving employee engagement with energy efficiency

Although ISO 50001 and ISO 14001 make for a complementary strategic sustainability plan for manufacturers, there are key differences between the standards. One of these is that ISO 50001 requires staff to engage with the standard and what it requires from them. This drive to involve the workforce is crucial. Any energy management system is only as effective as the employees helping to deliver it. If lights and equipment are left on unnecessarily or heating settings overridden, then the potential savings achievable through the actions of a systematic approach to energy management can be impacted.

Benchmarking energy management performance

Ongoing benchmarking of energy consumption is another requirement of ISO 50001 that is different but complementary to ISO 14001 and manufacturers are required to beat benchmarks year-on-year. This can engage teams to develop innovative energy saving solutions and undertake close analysis of where savings can be achieved. Working in an energy intensive production environment, this provides food manufacturers with a strategic opportunity to deliver annual savings, helping to cut energy costs and ensure they are well positioned to overcome the current challenges they face.

For instance, a manufacturer may decide to set the objective of an annual 10% reduction on the energy used in a certain stage of production. This may involve them looking at both the operation in that stage and the technology. There may be the opportunity to introduce energy saving devices such as variable speed drives or to simply alter the operating levels of a production stage to help deliver these objectives. The standard requires an energy management system which strives for continuous improvement, so manufacturers regularly review their site and changes such as these. Performance would be analysed and plans developed for further reductions.

It is also worth considering ISO 50001 for the number of food manufacturers who are included in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme. By adopting an overall strategic energy management system including mandatory benchmarking, there is an opportunity to reduce the impact of such schemes by adopting a systematic approach to reducing energy consumption.

At a very competitive time, food manufacturers would be well-advised to look at the opportunities offered by adopting the strategic approach of ISO 50001. Not only to help achieve bottom line savings, but also, to increase their CSR credentials, which may lead to the creation of new revenue streams.

Source: - 5 November 2012