Employee engagement vital for strategic energy management
Many businesses and organizations have adopted continuous improvement programs – such as Lean or Six Sigma – that are focused on product quality, safety and process efficiency. However, a continuous improvement mindset can also create competitive advantages when it comes to managing energy use in facilities. For the past several years, utilities have begun to incorporate Strategic Energy Management (SEM) programs into their energy efficiency portfolios in order to help customers see the value in developing in-depth energy management programs and realize the impact of engaging employees in this effort.
SEM establishes processes that provide businesses and organizations with the tools and resources to implement energy management best practices and achieve energy performance targets. The program focuses on enabling continuous energy improvement through the integration of processes and systems into daily operations. Wisconsin’s Focus on Energy program, administered by Leidos, helps firms in the manufacturing and healthcare sectors – like Foremost Farms USA, Charter Steel and WPS Health Solutions – make the commitment to enhance their energy management systems and processes through SEM.
Additionally, SEM provides these companies with an opportunity to get their employees more actively involved in identifying operational enhancements and energy efficiency upgrades – a critical aspect to success with continuous energy improvement. Employee engagement can include project treasure hunts, regular team meetings and surveys, and employee competitions and rewards.
“Our employees understand our production process and equipment inside and out. They also understand where the opportunities for improving our energy efficiency reside,” said Justin Pope, Director of Environment, Health and Safety for Foremost Farms USA. “With Focus on Energy’s help, we’re engaging employees in quantifying and pursuing those opportunities. With that engagement as well as real-time data management, we’re getting some impressive savings and generating even more improvement ideas.”
With support from Focus on Energy and Leidos, nearly half of those companies involved in the SEM program are pursuing their ISO 50001 certification, the international standard for energy management systems. Several Wisconsin businesses have already been recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy as ISO 50001 Ready – exhibiting national leadership by making the commitment to measure and improve energy performance over time. And that leadership and commitment starts with proactive employee engagement and open communication.
“We’ve had great progress understanding and improving our energy performance,” said Tari Emerson, Charter Steel’s Director or Energy. “That would not have happened without serious buy-in from our production people. Executive-level support and the ISO certification make our commitment to energy management a strategic part of our business practice.”
Leidos delivers several Strategic Energy Management programs across the country – including for Focus on Energy in Wisconsin.