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IHK Trier ‘Energy Scouts’ project

A report by Tim Gitz and Florian Müller (dual study students mechanical engineering)

The “Energy Scouts” project, offered by the IHK Trier, will provide knowledge of energy and energy efficiency to apprentices and students in two workshops. In addition, workshop participants can identify, document, and improve savings within their own organisation in a subsequent 3.5-month project phase.

Ms Ubl introduced us to the project. We were very interested and agreed to participate in the project, and were then enrolled in the IHK Trier.

Tim and I went to the IHK Trier to attend the first workshop entitled ‘Basic Knowledge’. During the workshop we learned basic principles of energy and energy consumption from our lecturer, Mr Petermann. The basic modules of his presentation were the listing and comparison of energy sources and the field of energy generation. There was also a presentation on the energy consumption of households or companies in Germany and we learned how energy is wasted.

Using examples and a quiz, we were made to realise that energy is not being used efficiently today, instead it is being wasted: We all know not to leave a light on unnecessarily, take hour-long hot showers, leave radiators on when the windows are open and to walk instead of using the car for short trips.

But what we don’t think about is where the energy comes from: For example, electricity comes from power stations, and diesel comes from crude oil. The problem with high energy consumption in developed countries is that the supplies of these resources are dwindling. Also, energy costs mount up over time through inefficient use.
The bottom line is that the first workshop raised our awareness of energy efficiency.

A few weeks later, the second workshop was held at the IHK Trier. There, the focus was on comparing the different forms of energy, the savings potential and their measurement in the company, and on demonstrating ways for using energy more efficiently, including numerous calculation examples. The calculation examples addressed various types of energy such as light, compressed air and exhaust heat, as well as static payback calculations.
This was clearly illustrated over the course of the day by many short demonstrations. We were also able to try out some of the measuring equipment ourselves, such as taking measurements with a thermal imaging camera.

After successfully participating in the two workshops, we started the project phase in the company We sat down with the company mentors, Ms Ubl (Head of HR) and Mr Leif (Head of Production) to identify potential energy savings and to find a suitable project within the company.

One of the things we learned in the workshops was that in most industrial companies, compressed air is the most expensive source of energy and even small leaks in the compressed air system can lead to large air leaks and therefore extensive costs.
Mr Leif, whose responsibilities as the safety, energy and environmental officer, include energy management, told us that our facility is currently in the process of installing a system to record the compressed air that also logs the compressed air consumption, energy consumption, energy costs, etc. In cooperation with Mr Leif, we accessed the above-mentioned system to examine the use of compressed air and quickly identified significant potential for savings.

Because of the energy waste and the cost overheads, we and the company mentors decided to investigate why this energy is being lost, and we launched the project: ‘Current compressed air consumption and identifying savings potential at Bilstein & Siekermann®.
Consequently, our task was to plan the next steps to ensure a structured energy management system:

  1. What is the general situation, what is the current consumption in kWh, what savings potential is there (establishing the as-is state)?
  2. Recording the machines connected to the compressed air system and other compressed air consumers during a tour of the company
  3. Drawing up a list of machines during the tour of the company; presentation of the project to the department heads
  4. Second tour of the company to examine the air system (using our senses: touch, sound) and to record the leaks (including images)
  5. Preparing lists of tasks for the departments (Repairs) to repair leaks
  6. Analysis of the lists after repairs
  7. Evaluation of the project; calculation of static payback time

After a plan had been drawn up, it was implemented. In doing so, we followed the plan outlined above.
After evaluating the data, we prepared a detailed report on our project including the concept, implementation and evaluation.

A poster was also created to provide a quick overview of the project. Both the report and the poster were forwarded to the IHK Trier for assessment.
On 7 March 2018, an awards ceremony was held at IHK Mainz to present the best eight projects submitted nationwide; of these, three were awarded prizes.

Unfortunately, the project report that we had so carefully prepared was discarded on the grounds that dual study students are not eligible for consideration by the IHK and are therefore not eligible for final selection.
Nevertheless, we were able to enjoy an interesting day at IHK Mainz and given a certificate of participation.

The bottom line:

The energy savings made by fixing the leaks at Bilstein & Siekermann® are clearly identifiable. Another positive aspect is that our work has contributed to reductions in CO2 emissions at Bilstein & Siekermann®. From our point of view as well as that of the department heads and company mentors, the project: ‘Current compressed air consumption and identifying savings potential at Bilstein & Siekermann® should be considered a great success.

In summary, we would like to say that we really enjoyed participating in the workshops and that we were given time off from our normal work as well as the support to pursue the project.

The project phase in the company was very interesting and it was a lot of fun. We were integrated into the processes of the company's energy management department, giving us insights we would not normally have been party to. Not only did we learn a lot about energy, energy efficiency and the associated savings potential that might even be of help to us in the course of our studies, but it also led to a positive change in our attitude and awareness of this subject. This project has also helped us to drive and realise operational change by working independently and in collaboration with Mr Leif and Ms Ubl.

Trainees and interns’ blog
IHK Trier ‘Energy Scouts’ project

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