A strategic decision by Premier Food Industries, the maker of Peptang tomato and chilli sauce, to install energy efficient equipment has returned the firm millions in savings.
Based in Baba Dogo on the outskirts of the capital Nairobi, the firm installed energy-efficient technologies and promoted conservation practices at its factory after conducting energy audits. The audits exposed loopholes for leakage and wastage, enabling the company to seal them off, according to the company CEO Joseph Choge.
For instance, the factory installed a voltage optimiser to regulate incoming power supply and reduce the voltage just to the optimal level for powering the factory equipment. That alone is saving the company $6,000 (Sh600,000) per year in electricity costs, according to Choge.
The freed-up cash is now being directed to other productive uses, spinning off more jobs. The voltage optimiser alone has helped cut back on power consumption by 30,000 units (kWh) annually.
Additionally, the factory replaced its lighting system 100 percent with LED tubes and installed motion sensors, all of which are supplemented by use of natural light during daytime. Through this measure, a further $2,600 (Sh260,000) has been freed up in power costs, according to company executives.
“The lower energy bills have removed pressure on our cash flows, enabling us to focus on our core operations as well as create more jobs,” said Choge.
Manufacturers have long complained of high electricity costs in the country, saying it was blunting their competitive edge compared to their counterparts in low-cost regimes such as Egypt and Ethiopia.
More firms in corporate Kenya are exploring innovative ways of slashing costs, including setting up rooftop and carport solar plants for own use.
Aside from Peptang sauces and juices, Premier Food Industries produces Orchid Valley juice brand.
Installation of cyclones in place of air conditioners has equally saved the company 10,000 units of electricity per year, equivalent to Sh200,000 while use of solar-powered security lights and skylights has saved it Sh50,000.
The Energy (Management) Regulations require buildings that consume more than 180,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) annually to conduct energy audits every three years as part of the country’s strategy to curb energy wastage and encourage prudent use of resources.
The audits are designed to help large hotels, universities, industries, hospitals and office complexes to troubleshoot and seal off leakage loopholes, resulting in lower energy costs.
The law requires audited buildings to implement at least 50 per cent of the recommendations prescribed in the audit reports.
Aside from lower power bills, the Peptang factory is equally benefitting from a reduced fuel cost burden, thanks to its energy-efficient measures.
For instance, it’s saving about 20,000 litres of fuel per year, equivalent to Sh400,000 after re-tubing its boilers and a further Sh100,000 for steam lines lagging.
A new hot water recovery system has freed up Sh40,000 in fuel expenses while automation of steam bath (control automation) is saving the firm Sh60,000 per year, according to company records.