Collecting energy data and monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) is only meaningful when compared in relation to benchmarks. Benchmarking against other ‘like’ facilities or processes allow for better understanding of expected performance and operational efficiencies. In addition, benchmarking against best-in-class or top performers provides an opportunity to motivate personnel and better exemplify ‘what is possible’ and what it takes to be recognized by other industry or government entities for their efforts. Benchmarking results allow for organizations to validate their efforts and provide proper context to drive further improvements to operational efficiency and energy efficiency.
For the purpose of this guidance document, the focus of benchmarking will be that of the internal processes of a beverage company.
The objective of internal benchmarking is to compare the facility’s results with other plants or best-in-class performers. This will build an understanding of the plant’s current performance to build and identify opportunities for further improvement.
Basic Dynamics of Benchmarking and Guidance on Benchmarking Data Use
Since it is important that any benchmarking exercise provide meaningful and relatively comparable levels of data, establishing boundaries, common definitions and a set of guidelines should be discussed and agreed. Some consideration should also be given to the following when benchmarking:
- Benchmark data should be collected against a clear definition of boundaries – what is included and what is not.
- Understanding the challenges and limitations inherent in the benchmarking e.g. internal facility-to-facility vs. external peer facility benchmarking.
- Normalize all data to a common unit of measurement, e.g. MJ consumed, independent of source (renewables, etc.)
- Conversion factors used should be consistently applied.
Accounting for On-Site Generation of Renewable Energy
Many discussions arise about whether or not to include the energy generated on-site, especially when benchmarking is done between different facilities. As noted in the Boundary topic area, all energy consumed by the facility, independent of its source, is included in this energy management framework.
This could mean that some facilities have a relatively higher energy consumption than others because they have less or more efficient equipment on-site to generate energy. But, as stated in the introduction, the value of benchmarking is to understand the facility’s performance by comparing the performance against others. Therefore, it is not about ranking, it is about understanding in order to improve, thus all energy generated on-site is accounted for.
Internal vs. External
Internal benchmarks can set the baseline for a facility’s performance and be the starting point for quantitative process examination. Performance data can be evaluated over time, and the effects of continuous improvement can again be measured and tracked. However, external benchmarking efforts are generally considered to provide value when assessing performance against a set of industry peers.
External benchmarks provide the benefit of comparing against equivalent operations and prevent organizations from lacking the understanding of what can comprise best-in-class performance.
One example of internal benchmarking exercise applied by a major beverage company utilizes the benchmarking methods in their internal goal and target setting program. The factors considered in benchmarking energy use at the production level include a normalization of use against three factors:
- The product mix
- The packaging mix
- Auxiliaries, like climate and size of warehouses and offices
For each of these factors (for each product and for each package), best-in-class energy consumption has been established. Also, correction factors have been determined for geographical location (climate) and for the size of offices and warehouses. This allows each plant to compare itself with a virtual best-in-class plant with similar operating specifics (product/packaging mix, geographical location, etc). The best-in-class numbers are updated regularly to be able to incorporate improvements over time due to new or emerging technologies and upgrades.
An example of an external benchmarking exercise involves the multi-beverage category, facility to facility level benchmarking work conducted by BIER. With participation from over 1,700 facilities across six continents representing 18 member beverage companies and one industry peer, BIER’s Water and Energy Use Benchmarking Study is the most comprehensive quantitative study of its kind for water and energy efficiency and use in the beverage industry.
For the BIER benchmarking process all facilities provide data against a common set of boundary conditions and definitions. The annual benchmarking study targets the collection of facility‐specific data over a five‐year period as defined below:
- Participants provide, at a minimum, facility type, geographic location, total beverage production, total water use, and total energy use data. Most companies will be able to provide energy use data amongst several categories of energy type, as noted in the “Facility‐Specific Data” table.
- Companies are also asked to provide supplemental data, including percent renewable resources purchased and generated; and process water and energy use information.
- Four types of beverage production facilities are identified: bottling, brewery, distillery, winery. Facility type is determined by the primary process conducted at each facility.
- Bottling facilities are assigned additional subcategories based on product mix to account for the various product types processed at bottling facilities.
We must understand and compare our energy usage in order to improve.