Quick Win actions and their application in the context of energy efficiency

Submitted by Acriziomar Alves on Fri, 09/11/2020 - 21:56
Quick Win Actions and Energy Efficiency


Learn what Quick Win actions are and how they can accelerate energy efficiency gains in your company.


You have probably heard the phrase "If you don't know where to start, start sweeping!" The concept of this statement can be used in Energy Efficiency through Quick Win actions, which are simple in nature, offer rapid gains, and require little or no investment but have absurdly large potential.

The importance of this type of activity lies in the fact that in general they are easy to implement, their gains appear quickly and unambiguously, and the dissemination of good practice happens organically and requires few financial or human resources. In addition, they motivate people to look at processes and operations more systemically and critically.

Classification matrix of the "Benefit Potential x Complexity of Actions"

Figure 1 – Classification matrix of the "Benefit Potential x Complexity of Actions"


How can these actions be identified?

With regard to Energy Efficiency, these Quick Wins appear largely in the elimination of any type of waste. In this example, we have what we call “lost “lost energy” or “useless energy”, which is energy consumed without generating any value to the product, such as idle equipment connected during meal hours, set ups or reconfigurations, and shift changes. Leaks of any nature are also on this list, especially in compressed air stations, pumping and heat generation.

Of no less importance it is possible to identify them in other places, like in poor lubrication of bearings, operation of lines below their nominal capacity, and conveyor systems with poorly adjusted belts (presence of slack), blocked furnace burners, holes of any size in cooling systems (in addition to losses the quality of the material stored may be compromised), over-contracted electricity, low power factor, and high energy consumption during peak hours. In addition, it is always a good idea to be attentive to other factors related to the daily work routine, such as outdated/obsolete operating standards and overdue training.

Magnifying glass and a computer keybord

Figure 2 – Identification of Quick Win actions


How can Quick Wins be implemented in the context of energy efficiency?

In order for these actions to be implemented and have the expected effect, the following is needed:

Leadership - That there is a leader who is responsible for the initiative who will involve people, conduct follow-up meetings, and "run after" resources if needed.

Team – Select a small and multidisciplinary team, no more than about 5 people. Ensure that these team members have experience in operations, automation/maintenance, processes/quality, utilities, and work safety. The people involved are the main factor for everything to happen, so it is important to invest time here!

Method - The only method to use is the Cartesian Method. However, there are several methodologies for achieving the objectives. This being the case, it is best to choose a simple methodology with clear steps. There already exist a number of forums in institutions for rapid and simple initiatives. For example, the A3 Report is a Lean Manufacturing tool developed by Toyota that expects that all of the steps of the solution should be limited to the size of an A3 sheet of paper, hence the name.

This methodology consists of eight sequential steps of equal importance, based on PDCA/SDCA:

A3 Report Model

Figure 3 – A3 Report Model

Source: Shmula, 2007 

Context – Where a brief introduction is made regarding the mapped opportunity. A history and the motivation for solving it are presented. The ideal is that motivation is linked to the other goals in the area, the unit, and the institution.

Current Condition – In this step the current situation of the event is described (indicator below the goal benchmarking), mapping the opportunities with a higher level of detail. Whenever possible, choose graphical forms, histograms, Pareto charts, pie graphs, specific consumption, and other visual forms. Avoid long texts!

Ideal condition – The expected result (meta) is defined in this item, as well as collecting the gains involved, such as financial gains, gains in reliability, in quality, in productivity, and in the reduction of CO2 emissions, among others.

Primary causes – In this topic, the team involved should map the causes of the target problem. For this purpose there are tools like the Ishikawa diagram, the five whys, etc. Thus the outputs of this step will be the basis for the creation of the action plan.

Action Plan – Here the team will list blocking actions for each of the causes identified in the previous step, prioritizing them by means of an effort vs. impact matrix. It is worth noting that all actions must have a deadline and a person responsible.

Follow-up – At first, for this stage maintain a schedule of weekly meetings with a maximum duration of 30 minutes with the entire team. The main themes addressed should be the measured results, checking the execution of the action plan, and if necessary, the help chain. For this moment to be utilized to the fullest, remember that the focus is on "what to do" and not "how to do it."

Conclusion, lessons learned and standardization – After monitoring has been performed (about 4 months or more) it is already possible to determine the efficiency of the actions and account for the gains obtained. Take a moment with the whole team to list the lessons learned and define the standardizations of good practice: this is of great importance for disseminating and maintaining the new level of operation attained.

Therefore, motivating people, especially those directly involved in the operation, to identify Quick Wins in the daily routine is of fundamental importance, because Quick Wins have great potential for cost reduction, increased operational reliability and productivity. After all, the first twist of the towel removes the most water!


References: TRACC SOLUTIONS and Voitto Management School.

Energy Management Analyst, Viridis

Acriziomar Alves is an Energy Management Analyst at Viridis, working in Energy Management and Strategic Planning at Bayer. He holds a bachelor's degree from the Brazilian Federal University of Uberlândia in electrical engineering with a focus on power systems. Mr. Alves has participated in R&D projects with Petrobrás, with research directed toward the creation of computational models for power flow analysis and energy quality.

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