Simplot Australia is one of Australia's largest food manufacturers and with brands including Leggo's, Edgell, Birds Eye, Harvest, John West and Lean Cuisine it's quite likely that one of these is included in most Australians' daily diets.
Simplot has six manufacturing facilities as well as state sales offices located across the country that employ over 2400 people. When Graham Bryant - Simplot’s National Environment Manager was charged with responsibility for Simplot Australia's energy procurement in 1999 he decided to expand the company's existing energy bill checking arrangement with Energetics, a decision he rates as one of the best he has made.
If you haven’t got the expertise, go out and find the right consulting group that suits your company and engage with them.
For my part good consultants should think about our business as much as we do; come to us with ideas and opportunities to think about and not wait to be asked.
In 1999, Energetics was merely checking energy bills for one of the company's sites. Graham determined to roll all utilities and sites into the service nationally, reasoning that by tracking usage and capturing the data in a single database, not only would this allow him to compare energy efficiency across sites, but more importantly it provided a benchmark on rates that enabled Simplot to leverage price information to negotiate gas and electricity supply state by state rather than site by site. This delivered significant economies through a consolidated buying strategy.
"We started with 350 invoices per annum mailed directly to Energetics and kept discovering invoices across the corporation that we were able to include," says Graham.
No one could have foreseen how fortuitous Graham's decision to grow and develop the Energetics-Simplot relationship would prove. After all, rapidly rising energy costs were on the horizon as were a raft of government energy monitoring and reporting programs.
Energy efficiency focus
The relationship evolved quickly with Energetics being brought into energy procurement and then energy efficiency planning as Graham realised the benefits of having a holistic range of services on tap from a consultancy with a detailed knowledge of his business. The benefit of having a long and enduring relationship with one energy consultatncy group far outweighs the chopping and changing across different groups: “Energetics understands our culture and our processes, saving us much time as we move from one activity to another”, said Graham.
Since 1999 the changes within Simplot have been monumental. Simplot has gone from a company with site-by-site energy contracts to a business that reports energy use on a daily, weekly and monthly basis with some sites being able to monitor real time energy use and others working to do likewise.
No longer is regulatory compliance seen as a baseline. Rather, it is merely a starting point. Simplot is embracing such programs as Energy Efficiency Opportunities with enthusiasm and implementing not only capital projects to save energy, but a whole-of-company approach to conservation.
Partner in change
In all of this Energetics is Simplot's partner in change, even to key account manager Roger Horwood being a member of Simplot's Energy Efficiency Steering Committee and accompanying Graham Bryant to participate at Simplot's parent company - JR Simplot United States Sustainability Conference in February this year.
"Roger brings into our business a wealth of external experience in all things energy. Energetics has been specialising in this industry since 1988. With limited resources it can be extremely difficult to stay on top of all the regulation changes, compliance requirements and developments in driving energy efficiency. Roger adds value by bringing this knowledge into our business. .
"Roger supports our coordination on energy efficiency, he is able to provide technical advice through the Energetics’ team on a wide range of technologies as we require information and support. If they don't have that skill they've got good relationships with others who can come in and support us," Graham said.
Since the relationship started Energetics has been involved with:
carbon strategy and supply chain impact reviews
energy purchasing contract negotiation and market advice
sustainability data collection and web based reporting services
bill checking for all energy, water and waste bills
energy audits and EEO assessments for all major plants and head office
National Pollutant Inventory and National Greenhouse Energy reporting
technical project development
management systems diagnostics and on-going expert support.
"When the Energy Efficiency Opportunities (EEO) program was launched we invited Energetics to brief our senior supply chain managers, leadership is a crital element in the EEO program and we wanted to make sure that our Supply Chain leadership group fully understood the EEO requirements. Since that occasion we have used Energetics to help facilitate the development of our assessment plans across our business and in the ongoing process of assessment and reporting."
Promoting a culture of energy efficiency
To facilitate its energy efficiency programs Simplot manaufacturing sites have an Energy Champion (a person with an existing role who is passionate about energy efficiency) who chairs a site energy efficiency committee to ensure projects are identified, reviewed and where practical, implemented. Additionally the committee looks at developing an energy efficiency culture across the sites so that all are aware of the importance of energy efficiency and can suggest ideas to be investigated. To date, many energy saving opportunities have been identified and analysed in the EEO process.
Unlike some companies, Simplot found the moves to the NPI, NGER and EEO programs relatively easy thanks to years of Energetics' data collection and the use of its CarbonScope(TM) program to analyse energy, water and waste bills.
In five years the EEO analysis has turned up a large number of energy saving options throughout the Simplot sites with a number already achieving significant plus savings, creating strong groundwork for Simplot's global “25 In 10” energy program which is has a goal of reducing energy consumption per tonne of production by 25% between 2008 and 2018.
Energetics provides Simplot with support in the development of business cases checking technical aspects of projects and more.
Graham said following the EEO programs six key elements provides a positive means of identifying cost reduction opportunities.
He said that a lack of in-house resources has not been a major barrier in our energy efficiency journey.