TBM Consulting launches lean energy practice in India

August 24th, 2008 - 3:02 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 24 (IANS) With more and more Indian companies adopting lean practices to cut energy costs, consulting major TBM Consulting Group Inc has launched lean energy practice as a separate vertical in India.”The one focused manner of cutting energy costs and conserving natural resources is to apply lean manufacturing concepts,” Anand Sharma, president and CEO, TBM Consulting Group Inc, told IANS.

The $51 million (Rs.2 billion) revenue company monitors energy flows and holds kaizen events to spot waste and change processes to cut energy costs, Sharma said.

Lean energy practices are different from what energy audit companies do, he said.

“Energy audit companies assure cost reduction by rescheduling energy intensive production processes to those times of the day when power utilities charge lower rates.”

“Their fee is normally a percentage of the energy expense saved which gives rise to manipulations.”

“We, on the other hand guarantee reduction in actual energy consumption in absolute terms - units, kilolitres and others. Our fee is fixed upfront,” Sharma added.

According to him, lean energy practices create the capability within a corporate to look at cost savings on their own without the intervention of any consultant.

He said energy waste occurs from improper machine conditions, non-standardised work norms, excessive inventories, unnecessary processing and human behaviour.

Lean energy practices go beyond total productive maintenance (TPM), Sharma said.

“If a machine is maintained properly it will function at optimum efficiency. But what about rule of thumb industry practices and human behaviour/beliefs? Lean energy practice is more than TPM.”

“As lean energy practitioners, we question the very basis of various manufacturing practices.”

“For instance, in a food company if the practice is to boil something for 15 minutes, we will experiment to see what happens if the time is reduced by one, two or even five minutes. We will establish scientific rules to replace thumb rules.”

Moreover, waste heat can be captured for further use. In a food company where energy costs are much higher than people costs, such measures can result in savings of thousands of dollars.

The focus is on being energy smart. “For instance, McCain Foods Limited, a global frozen foods company with over $6 billion sales, cut energy costs in a single facility by $300,000 a year using lean practices,” Sharma said.

Questioned about Japanese quality consultants and organisations, he said, “They are more focused on training the professionals in a company. They leave the implementation part to their clients whereas we get involved in actual implementation of the projects.”

According to him, the Indian manufacturing sector is now being looked at as an alternative to China as labour costs are increasing and there is a shortage of talent.

“Further, there are lots of uncertainties in China. For instance, the government ordered closure of several factories around Beijing till the Olympic Games gets over. This in turn has affected production and distribution schedules. In addition there are cases of costly product recalls.”

“The Indian manufacturing sector is better placed now to cash in if they shore up their processes and the government brings in the necessary investment in infrastructure,” Sharma said.

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