Pharmacia is a New Jersey-based producer of a broad range of pharmaceutical products for global markets. Like many manufacturers, it uses activity-based costing to help manage its business. Those costs can include labor and raw materials, electricity and other energies used to run machinery, a percentage of the heating and cooling, a percentage of the rent, etc. Part of tracking those costs involved making the rounds to collect power meter data.
Manual system overhaul
In the last 10 years, Pharmacia’s need to track energy consumption by product has not changed, but the tools it uses to collect that information certainly have. “We used to manually read the analog kWh meters for our internal billing customers,” Tracy said. “We had 125 internal billing meters and spent two days each month collecting the data, compiling it, and getting it to accounting.”
In addition to the time-consuming task of collecting, consolidating and reporting energy data, Pharmacia staff faced the difficult task of monitoring kW demand to understand loading. Dave Tracy and Jim Vyuerberg of Pharmacia Corporation recognized the need for a new way to monitor power. It wasn’t hard for them to determine that investing in power monitoring could pay off quickly.
Automated and reliable solution – immediate benefits
The Pharmacia staff spent more than a year evaluating all available brands – even purchasing and installing trial meters – before they chose Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Power Monitoring Expert. According to Vyuerberg, “The more we looked at it, the more we liked it. The history log was the most important information. We needed information we could trust to understand demand and loading.”
Their next step was installing circuit monitors at key locations and networking them to remote PCs. Pharmacia decided to replace – instead of retrofitting – many aging substations and put metering on every main and on most feeders. That decision expedited the installation of the circuit monitors.
Benefits became apparent soon after Pharmacia installed the circuit monitors and software; they first showed up in the monthly process of collecting energy readings for internal billing purposes. That process, which had typically taken two days, was reduced to about three hours even though it still involves a few manual reads.
The company has realized additional savings by avoiding and minimizing downtime. Outages cause huge losses, especially considering that certain medicines must go through a batch fermentation process that can last up to 30 days. “If you lose that product, you not only lose the medicine, but you also lose all the time invested,” Vyuerberg said. Depending on the product and processes in progress, losses from downtime can range from $100,000 an hour to as much as $23 million dollars a day, he said.
To help speed recovery when outages occur, the Pharmacia staff added an optional paging module to their power monitoring system. Now, when they have a problem, the pager alerts the supervisor – even at home – so he can dispatch people to the site. “The paging system helps us react and pinpoint the source of the outage,” Tracy said. “If it saves two minutes on an outage, it pays for itself.”
The staff at Pharmacia continue to find new benefits from their monitoring system. Some of the other uses for the system include:
- Ability to monitor incoming utility lines
- Using analog inputs on circuit monitors to monitor batteries and room temperatures in the data center
- Using inputs and outputs to control air compressors
- Saving energy by monitoring amperage on 2,000 HP machines to determine when to start and stop the machines
- Using the circuit monitor’s patented system to diagnose and troubleshoot problems in the research center
- Using the system’s power quality features to document and provide evidence of voltage sags and spikes
Get more on Pharmacia’s power monitoring story by accessing the full case study here: