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Gas consumption and efficiency

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Analysis of natural gas consumption at Weston Bakery revealed cost-saving opportunities

Can a bakery burn less gas with the same equipment? Statistical analysis of consumption data may provide an answer. The good news is that bakers do not need to do it themselves.

“We couldn’t explain a ‘hiccup’ in sub-metering data from our bread oven in our Sudbury bakery,” says Darren Borden, Energy Management engineer at Weston Foods (Canada) Inc. “Sub-metering alone didn’t identify an issue, but only indicated a change point. The site behaved differently between summer and winter operations.”

To find out the answer he contracted GreenQ Partners to look at the consumption data. “The analysis was powerful and allowed us to discover and ultimately address the reason behind the unexplained rise in natural gas consumption that we were seeing,” he concludes.

Anatoli Naoumov, managing director for GreenQ, explains that using statistical analysis the company was able to quantify the loss of efficiency and pinpoint the time of changes that caused it. “Through a discussion of the numbers with Darren we found the reason – the temperature sensor calibration procedure was faulty,” says Naoumov. Fixing the problem required no investment: third-party calibrators are now required to show a certificate of recent sensor calibration. This change alone is about to save the bakery about 15,000 m³ of natural gas per year.


Along with answering the initial question GreenQ has produced several valuable by-products. Bakery now has a tool to calculate marginal cost of production for costing and budgeting instead of using average per kg gas consumption, which was confusingly different every month. Analysis quantified the difference between winter and summer consumption and tracked this difference to intake air temperature. Now a business case to preheat combustion air can rely on actual data. The uptake? At the very least 60,000 m³ per year. On another oven that already uses inside air for combustion, the difference in summer and winter non-production gas consumption has invalidated the operational decision to keep oven always on in summer to “save gas on reheating.” Changing the procedure will save gas with no cost.

Borden is pleased with the outcome. “This kind of analysis can also make the case for preventative maintenance,” he says. Borden concludes that he “would definitely use such analysis again, because it turns sub-metering data into actionable information about efficiency, it uncovers discrepancies.”

In other words, saving energy through analysis is an easy way to increase profit.


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