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Commentary: September-October 2012

A culture of energy


October 11, 2012
By John Tenpenny

Topics

Silo Mentality: An attitude found in some organizations that occurs when
several departments or groups do not want to share information or
knowledge with other individuals in the same company

Silo Mentality: An attitude found in some organizations that occurs when several departments or groups do not want to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same company. A silo mentality reduces efficiency and can be a contributing factor to a failing corporate culture.

You would think sharing information and ensuring everybody is “on board” with a company-wide program is a given. Not so fast. Sometimes organizations are saddled with the so-called “silo mentality” and breakdowns in communication amongst departments occur. Initiatives that are started with fanfare and optimism quickly fizzle out and are forgotten, perhaps to be resurrected at a later time.

In the realm of energy management this is what happens more often than not. A program is started and if only one person or one department is driving the change, then, once the program is complete, the idea of managing energy costs fades into the background. Unless everyone can be made to feel a part of the program, momentum is a hard thing to maintain.

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During my recent visit to the St Marys Cement plant in Bowmanville, Ont., I was particularly impressed with how senior managers stressed that the success of their energy management program is due to the participation and leadership of employees from all areas of the operation:  finance, human resources, quality control and production.

“No matter how good the equipment and systems and processes, it doesn’t work without people,” plant operations manager Fabio Garcia told me.

David Arkell of 360 Energy, the company which certified the plant’s years-long energy program recently with its Certification in Energy Excellence program, said the reason for the company’s success is its great culture. “They measure and verify success and promote it, which helps build momentum.”

A key component of the energy initiative at St Marys is employee awareness and training. Garcia told me that real-time energy data displays are accessible throughout the plant to inform employees about energy use. These displays and targeted employee training underline a behavioural change that Garcia and his colleagues are hoping to see. “We want to enable our employees to make energy efficiency decisions at work and at home.”

They brand all related material with the E=MC2 (Energy Management Conservation Committee) logo, publishing newsletter articles about conservation issues, providing training to new and existing employees, participating in Earth Hour, displaying the plant’s awards for energy and environmental achievement, and scheduling an annual Energy Conservation Week at which employees learn about energy management at home and in the workplace.

This year’s event included seminars on fuel efficiency, hydrogen/power generation from waste heat and addressing fuel efficiency challenges, as well as an awards ceremony to celebrate the past seven years of conservation efforts that led to the certification.

The creation of the integrated management team and its encouragement of all employees to work together to discover energy management solutions that work best for the plant have ensured that no silos will appear in Bowmanville.


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