In 2012 Johnson Matthey’s Germiston site signed up to the Industrial Energy Efficiency Project to help tackle the energy shortage in South Africa...

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In 2008, South Africa experienced an energy shortage due to insufficient capacity within the national grid. This shortage led to the initiation of the Industrial Energy Efficiency Project (IEE) which is supported by two government departments and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO). In 2012 Johnson Matthey's Germiston site signed up to this project to target energy reduction.

ISO 50001 Principles and an Energy Team

The IEE promotes energy efficiency, based on ISO 50001 principles. This standard provides companies with a framework to identify significant energy users, develop reduction strategies and put in place data management systems. Additionally, management commitment is a core part of the process. Johnson Matthey Germiston appointed an energy team and ensured that two members of this team received advanced training in energy management systems (EnMSs). A consultant was employed to provide guidance and to assist with the introduction of ISO 50001.

Tackling Behavioural Change

Significantly, although the new system swiftly brought benefits, behavioural change lay at the heart of the improvements. Various campaigns were run and energy awareness increased. In the words of one participant, "if you don't know about potential savings opportunities, you won't look for them. Attitude is king. As the new EnMS was implemented, four areas were targeted for intervention and improvement: compressors, chillers, production mixing vessels and a drying oven. A range of energy efficiency improvements were identified and put in place.

Capital costs were modest and in many cases zero. Meters and submeters were installed to allow the changes to be tracked. Alongside the four large interventions, smaller scale, kaizen (or continuous improvement) changes were ushered in, contributing to the overall savings. Over the 12 month implementation period impressive savings were made. The cost savings in this short period alone were several hundred thousand pounds and energy savings amounted to over 2 million kWh. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for the period was over 1,695 tonnes.

Successful Results

The project has succeeded on two levels - it reduces emissions and makes cost savings. These strengthen the business financially and are achievements that are in line with Johnson Matthey's sustainability targets. At the same time, it is playing a part in South Africa's shift towards more sustainable industrial energy practices.

Having implemented the principles of ISO 50001, the Germiston site will be looking to achieve full certification within the next year.