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Expert knowledge for sustainable energy management in printing plants

The permanent increase in the price of every form of energy is a mega-trend that can no longer be reversed on a lasting basis. Moreover, climate change is calling long-established production structures and consumer habits into question. The mauser-kaiser engineering office based in Aschheim near Munich, Germany, advises companies in the printing industry on both technical and business matters. A core component of these activities is site analysis, whereby the topics of energy management and energy optimisation play a major role. In the following interview, Christian Kaiser, co-proprietor of the engineering office, clearly outlines the reasons why putting these topics on the agenda is a worthwhile move for printing companies.

Christian Kaiser

Question: Mr. Kaiser, you are going to be focusing on the issues of energy consulting and energy management at this year's World Publishing Expo in Amsterdam. What was the reason behind this decision?

Christian Kaiser (CK): We want to make people in the industry realize that, when it comes to production, energy should be given the same consideration as material, personnel and processes. It is not uncommon for us to experience that a company would make significantly more profit if it had invested in energy saving and energy management ten years earlier. Companies that act now won't be kicking themselves later.

Question: But the initial cost could be very high ...

CK: That's no doubt true. It's the same with every investment. But we see the present moment as a good time to act: interest rates are as low as they have ever been and, in the medium term, the price of fossil fuels will start to rise again. In addition, some governments are subsidising energy saving and energy efficiency measures.

Question: But aren't we experiencing falling energy prices at the moment?

CK: That's right as far as the year 2014 is concerned. The USA and Canada have invested heavily in unconventional technologies such as fracking and oil sand extraction, making them practically independent of the world market. Despite this, there has been no real easing in energy prices in Europe. Although prices have fallen by around 16 % compared to the high price phase of 2012, they are still at the level of 2011 and approx. 100 % above the level of 2004. And if you look at the considerable collateral damage caused by fracking in the USA, we believe it is only a matter of time before such production methods have to bear the cost of the consequences, and prices rise again.



Indications of the inefficient use of energy

Question: Let's assume an entrepreneur is sensitised to the problem. How can he see if he is consuming too much energy?

CK: There is no general answer to that question because order structures vary too greatly. But there are reliable indications in every area that show if energy is being wasted or used inefficiently. For example:

· Temperatures over 30 °C in the boiler room or compressor room

· Heating pipes and fittings that are either badly insulated or not insulated at all

· Very dirty filters in ventilation units

· Exterior doors and gates, e.g. at the ramp, are left open for a long time while the plant is working

· Wooden windows over 20 years old, glass bricks or glass rooflights

· Cold rooms in winter following days without production

· Condensation on walls or ceilings in winter, misted up windows or even mould

· Overheated rooms or high cooling requirement in summer

If an entrepreneur acknowledges just two of these examples within his company, professional consulting would certainly be worthwhile.

Question: You mentioned a couple of points that I would never have thought of as indications that energy is being wasted.

CK: Everyone has made such observations in one form or another. It just goes to show to what extent energy is wasted. Often it simply isn't noticed. That is why we want to raise awareness and draw attention to cause and effect relationships. The phenomenon of condensation, for example, is doubly annoying: especially in winter, the air in the printing hall has to be additionally humidified at great cost to keep a constant level of humidity. This water then condenses on insufficiently insulated exterior walls or old windows. As a result it is missing in the air, thus making further humidification necessary. It's an expensive vicious circle!

A systematic approach rather than uncoordinated individual measures

Question: How can improvements be realized? New windows, a new heating system?

CK: It's not quite so simple. I would warn against trying to eliminate one specific deficiency by means of an individual measure. An existing building with existing uses in its various parts constitutes a complex overall system. Any change in one place impacts other parts of the building. We recommend considering and examining the building and its uses holistically in order to recognise all the interactions and achieve the best possible result. Our site analysis considers the following factors with respect to energy efficiency:

· The quality of all components of the thermal envelope (walls, ceilings, windows, gates, doors, smoke and heat vents, rooflight domes, etc.) in terms of energy performance – between different utilisation zones as well as on the exterior

· The condition and efficiency of heat generation and circulation systems, ventilation systems, air-conditioning systems, hot water production and circulation systems

· The condition of lighting systems

· Opportunities for heat recovery (e.g. from air compressors, exhaust air from machinery or from dryers)

This information provides the basis for determining the best possible combination and sequence of refurbishment measures and for checking the possibility of government subsidies. We then show the savings forecast for the defined variant and can calculate the amortisation.

Of course, our site analysis also goes much further, and, as an option, it can also examine the production processes, the technical condition of the production equipment and the fire protection arrangements for the building.

Question: Where does energy management take hold here?

CK: First of all, an energy management system (EMS) according to ISO 50001 creates information structures which the company management can utilise at any time to determine the cost and consumption of the various energy carriers within each cost centre. If a company already has an EMS, it makes our job simpler because we can more easily recognise the main areas of energy consumption, and, subsequently, the results of the refurbishment are immediately apparent. However, the EMS does not answer the question as to how energy consumption can be reduced. We still need to carry out a site analysis for that purpose. This constitutes the first phase of the optimisation cycle according to ISO 50001, which then follows.

An energy audit according to DIN 16247-1, on the other hand, only provides a snapshot of the energy consumption and does not include the subsequent optimisation cycle envisaged in ISO 50001.

Thank you very much for the interview, Mr Kaiser.

Personal information:


University of applied sciences degree in industrial engineering specializing in Printing

Qualified offset printer

Active in the printing industry since 1985

Graduate of University of Applied Sciences for Printing (today: Stuttgart Media University), Stuttgart in 1995

Project engineer, technical director, operation planner and project manager in operation planning in various newspaper companies, at manufacturers and in a planning office

Partner in the mauser-kaiser engineering office since October 2012

Member of Bayernenergie e.V. (Landesverband Bayern im GIH Gebäudeenergieberater Ingenieure Handwerker Bundesverband e.V.) - association of energy consultants

Member of EKO e.V. (EWO-Kompetenzzentrum Energie e.V. Der Energiewende Oberland) – centre of competence for energy