Why Energy Resilience Matters
Siemens UK is calling on manufacturers to bolster their energy resilience by addressing risks associated with ageing plant.
Toby Horne, senior lead for Siemens Energy Resilience, explains: "Critical electrical power equipment, which has accumulated over decades, forms a significant backbone of today’s manufacturing industry.
"Either housed in a single location or clustered across multiple sites, a complex patchwork of modern and legacy technologies makes up the electrical systems powering manufacturing, these engineering assets have been added to, adapted, maintained and repaired or replaced over time.
"These systems are supplying energy to, in almost all cases, mission critical operations but years of reactive maintenance, planned or emergency repairs and differing or inconsistent service practices have made it near impossible, for a significant proportion of businesses, to accurately gauge how these electrical assets are actually shaping up.
"Many are not aware of whether their systems can handle even greater demands, others are simultaneously grappling with an energy transition that is adding supply diversification, on-site energy production and decarbonisation targets to their sites – posing additional risks, more points of failure and ever more pressure."
Siemens is advocating a smarter, more sustainable way to manage energy resilience which will provide better insulation against the dangers of blackouts, the complete interruption of power that halts operations and brownouts, partial or temporary reduction in system capacity. Branded "Resilience-as-a-Service", the multi-pronged approach it advocates combines Risk Identification, Risk Management and Efficient Issue Resolution.
On how businesses can build more energy resilience into their critical power infrastructure, Horne says: "A lack of visibility makes it difficult to see and understand the level of risk within your power infrastructure, but the outcome of downtime is severe – interruption to operations, damage to reputation, unforeseen costs accrued (in fines or revenues) or even a risk-to-life – requiring a more a proactive stance, instead of the conventional view through a maintenance-lens.
"Risk can never be eliminated but the right resilience strategy, supported by a knowledgeable and trusted partner, can manage and mitigate the threats."
Citing company estimates that two-thirds of the estimated 65,000 panels of Siemens Reyrolle brand industrial switchgear that are still in use in the United Kingdom predate the 1970s, Horne adds:
"The prospect of imminent power infrastructure failure is real. Manufacturing is one of the most energy-intensive industries. Any power outages or pricing fluctuations can have significant ramifications on day-to-day operations and production output. The cost to businesses can be eye-watering when you consider 3 per cent of all working days are lost in manufacturing through machine downtime which costs UK business £180 billion annually.
"There is an impression that many are sleepwalking into potential danger, not wholly aware of the risks. A resilience strategy helps to save time, stress and strain. UK manufacturers must embrace the concept and make it their own personal responsibility to prepare for the energy challenges of today and tomorrow."