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Celanese Corporation: Raising Energy Engagement in Plant Operations Teams with “Energy Sparks” Training Tools

Celanese recognizes that sometimes even the best energy projects and systems can underperform because of misunderstanding or lack of knowledge of how industrial systems should work. Because of these knowledge gaps, energy systems can be operated with incorrect setpoints, inefficient equipment lineup, or in manual mode (bypassing automated optimization).

Without a detailed knowledge of how basic energy equipment like steam traps or pumping systems work, or knowledge to recognize when equipment is faulty or in need of repair, operations personnel can fail to identify and correct problems and become complacent to inefficient operations. Not having  insight into the amount of money wasted through inefficiency exacerbates the problem. The Celanese training team addressed this challenge by improving employee education and engagement in energy management.

The Celanese “Energy Sparks” training tools were developed over two months by a specialized team within the Celanese Global Energy Council. The process started with developing a preliminary Energy Spark on the topic of steam condensate for a specific training need at the Narrows, Virginia plant. Through this trial, the team realized the value of the tool and rapidly expanded the program to include many more topics, such as steam traps, compressed air, insulation, and valve throttling on pumping systems.

Celanese Corporation used a 6-step process to develop and implement Energy Spark training tools:

  1. Topic Development: Feedback was collected from various sites and operations teams to create a list of energy topics that meet their needs and interests.
  2. Research: Extensive research was conducted on topics of interest using vetted resources such as the U.S. Department of Energy tip sheets.
  3. Drafting of Materials: Applicable energy information was condensed to fit into a one-page summary and “Did You Know” format.
  4. Translation to Spanish: Spanish versions of the Energy Sparks tools were created for use at plants where Spanish is spoken at the operations level.  
  5. Defining an Online File Sharing Location: An online storage location was defined to store training materials and enable Celanese teams across the company to access and utilize Energy Sparks.
  6. Coaching Team Leaders: Site managers were trained on the newly available resources and strategies for implementation at the site level, including ways to initiate conversation and action within site teams.

After the Energy Sparks program was shared at a Celanese Energy Council team meeting, several sites immediately started to implement them within their plants. Energy Sparks are often shared at shift toolbox meetings at the beginning of the day or displayed on bulletin boards.  

Energy Sparks training tools have reduced energy usage at manufacturing sites by promoting knowledge and engagement with on-site operations teams. The tool has initiated company-wide improvements in energy efficiency programs and increased operations teams involvement in brainstorming new ideas for energy reduction. There are currently fifteen Energy Sparks covering a wide variety of manufacturing-based energy topics, with the goal of expanding to cover other energy topics of interest to operations teams. They are all unique and tailored to Celanese manufacturing-relevant topics. Energy Sparks could also be adapted to other subjects in the sustainability space, including water and carbon reduction, as well as safety and environmental subjects. They are currently available in English and Spanish and may also be translated to Chinese, Dutch, and German in the future.

Existing Energy Sparks

  1. Uninsulated Lines
  2. Air Leaks
  3. Peak Electricity Demand
  4. Steam Traps
  5. Energy Facts
  6. Compressed Air Usage
  7. Pump Valve Throttling
  8. Condensate Return
  9. Low Pressure Compressed Air
  10. Turn Motors Off When Not In Use
  11. Portable AC’s
  12. Pumps In Parallel
  13. Led Lighting
  14. Install Removable Insulation
  15. Bypass Valve Operation

The success of Energy Sparks training tools can be measured by operations team engagement and participation in company-wide sustainability ventures. The trainings are impacting the mindset of operators and initiating conversation and action at the shift team level. Several sites within Celanese have enhanced their engagement program through communication, branding, training, and awareness using Energy Sparks tools.

At one of the Celanese plants, the steam traps Energy Sparks tool was shared with shift operators, covering how steam traps work and how to inspect and detect a failed trap. The site has a maintenance program in place for an annual inspection of all their steam traps, completed by an external company. On their initiative and inspired by what they learned from the steam trap Energy Spark, Celanese operators suggested conducting further checks when there was time available on shift. Only two weeks after the external steam trap inspections were completed, an operator doing his checks found a critical broken steam trap and was able to get it repaired immediately, saving almost a year of potential energy losses valued at approximately $7,000.

These project savings, while in smaller amounts, can reflect significant operational savings when considering multiple projects at a single Celanese plant or across its global manufacturing network.