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University programme credited for helping West Midlands cut energy consumption by 32%

WMG has been shortlisted for an ‘Energy Efficiency Project of the Year Award’ A university programme which helped SMEs reduce energy consumption by 32% has been nominated for a national sustainability award.

WMG at The University of Warwick helped more than 50 SMEs in the West Midlands become more sustainable after the energy crisis left 60% of these critical UK manufacturers threatened with closure. The project has helped reduce the energy and fuel consumption of SMEs, which are responsible for 44% of non-household UK emissions.

WMG achieved this through its Net Zero Innovation Network which is now up for ‘Energy Efficiency Project of the Year Award’ – hosted by edie’s Net Zero Awards.

The Net Zero Innovation Network is helping to deconstruct the complexities of energy management, sustainability, and innovation for manufacturers across the UK. The network of engineers, innovation managers and industry experts offers practical tools and programmes to help SMEs overcome barriers such as lack of time, internal skills and cash-flow to invest. There is no cost for businesses involved, the only investment needed from SMEs is time.

Net Zero Innovation Network also provides access to state-of-the art equipment at the University, help companies reduce their energy consumption. The programme, built on the key themes of people, planet and profit, gets under the skin of the business to empower them to make real lasting change – upskilling staff and reducing scope 1 and 2 emissions.

The Net Zero Innovation Network designed a Manufacturing Energy Toolkit to provide provide solutions for SMEs impacted by the energy crisis. This toolkit measured and analysed energy consumption at a granular level, using WMG systems and research. The average energy saving of businesses using the toolkit was 32% and one SME reduced its energy consumption by 81%.

Other successful Net Zero Innovation Network projects included:

  • Waste heat recovery simulation – assessing how to redirect heat in businesses to avoid additional energy (heating) being used.
  • Process automation – using robots or software to help automate more mundane, repetitive and simple tasks, enabling other staff members to focus on more impactful projects.
  • Granular material and energy monitoring – mapping out what materials and energy is currently being used, identifying ways to enhance efficiency or reduce waste
  • Digitalisation – encouraging companies to utilise digital tech and systems e.g. upgrading their processes from paper to online/digital

Laura Downey, Innovation Manager at WMG, and technical lead of the programme, said: “The Net Zero Innovation Network has supported over 50 businesses and counting. As a result, the businesses we’ve partnered with have reduced their emissions whilst improving profitability, remained suppliers of choice and increased material and energy efficiency. We are honoured to have been shortlisted for the edie Net Zero Awards and look forward to supporting even more SMEs on their journey to net zero.”

Leslie Sharp, Director of Kingfisher Enamelling, who benefited from the WMG programme, said: “WMG staff provide a range of knowledge and expertise which we just did not have. Added to this, their drive and commitment to help SMEs is immeasurable.”

The winners of edie’s Net Zero awards will be announced on 15 November. Find out more about the awards here

For SMEs wanting to get involved in the scheme, there was a webinar on 26 October with a guest talk from participant company Professional Polishing Services

Tue 31 Oct 2023, 14:23 | Tags: SME Partnerships Sustainability