This piece was originally published in the August 2018 issue of electroindustry.
The NFL season is just around the corner. When I watch the New York Giants play, I appreciate that no matter how good an individual player may be, it is the entire team that wins or loses. A quarterback may have a near-perfect pass rating, but unless his offensive line and receivers are tuned to each other, the team probably loses, and the fans go home frustrated.
The same concept applies to energy efficiency in the electroindustry. NEMA Member companies are renowned for products that are safe, reliable, and efficient. Each of these attributes has different defining characteristics: Safety is based on deep scientific study of electricity and its applications in the real world; reliability results from applied production engineering and quality; and efficiency arises from design excellence and manufacturing expertise.
Even as we manufacture and employ the most effective individual components, each has technical and economic limitations. The sum of their device-level efficiency is not commensurate with system-level efficiency. Attaining that pinnacle involves not only understanding product efficiency, but employing analysis and application expertise.
Whether we’re talking about lighting, HVAC, wastewater treatment, microgrids, or medical imaging informatics, a systems approach relies on the interactions of components within and among its individual parts and ultimately drives consumer satisfaction. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, quantifiable non-energy benefits have been estimated to range from 25 to 50 percent of the total benefits of energy efficiency across all sectors.
Government efficiency standards, however, remain focused on the product level alone. Nearly half of the electricity consumed in the manufacturing sector is used for powering motor-driven products, such as fans, pumps, conveyors, and compressors. Improving efficiency of an entire system, rather than just improving the efficiency of individual motors, holds greater potential for energy savings. In fact, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, more than 70 percent of the total potential motor system energy savings is estimated to be available through system improvements.
NEMA and others need to show regulators an approach to system analysis that is at least neutral—if not advantageous to—Member companies. The Internet of Things should hasten the trend to systems thinking across virtually all NEMA/MITA sectors. This will likely introduce a whole new family of Standards and other technical and policy work that NEMA is optimally positioned to deliver.
While politicians and policymakers wrestle with the complex issues of the day, manufacturers are wise to keep their focus on what drives the economy over the longer term. We make things so that they perform precisely as individual components and achieve optimized outcomes within a systems environment.
On our field, customers—our fan base—know they can depend on us to navigate the complexities of the game in ways that will make their lives systematically better.
David G. Nord
Chairman, NEMA Board of Governors