The management approach to controlling energy

February 21, 2013
Written by Lisa Brodeur
There's lots a grower can do to optimize their greenhouse's energy consumption and improve margins.
There's lots a grower can do to optimize their greenhouse's energy consumption and improve margins.
In the last 30 years, the greenhouse industry has experienced significant changes. New technologies have not only brought an increase in production levels, but have also allowed more competitors to enter the industry, leading to smaller margins.

The net result: greenhouse operators require improved execution and cost control measures to remain competitive.

 

Up to 70 per cent of a grower’s time can be spent on operational planning and production, which leaves little time for all the other demands that come with running a greenhouse business. Now, more then ever before, it is vitally important that greenhouse operators take a management approach to controlling energy costs, just as they do with production. Thirty years ago, greenhouse operations ran on gut feel and energy was seen as a fixed cost. Today, we know that much can be done to optimize a greenhouse’s energy consumption and purchasing practices, leading to improved margins.

 

Over the same time frame, we have seen energy markets de-regulate, regulate and then de-regulate all over again. Just in the past two years, shale gas has completely changed the natural gas industry and is beginning to significantly impact the electrical and transportation industries.

 

With so many changes taking place, it is important for growers to continue to focus on their products and their customer’s needs. Step one is having access to information and the support of a strong team of people around you to help you understand the information you are receiving. You understand production, staffing levels, and the best time to harvest your crop, but it is equally important to have accurate up-to-date information on energy markets.

 

Energy markets are volatile, complicated and constantly changing. You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to understand the issues at hand and be able to rely on a team of experts that can provide you with information in a timely and concise format so that you can react as efficiently as possible. The quicker a decision can be made, the sooner you can return to doing what you do best: getting product out the door.

 

Every grower will have a unique situation that will need to be addressed and no two growers will have the exact same solution, but a team of energy experts can help you realize the benefits of taking a management approach to controlling energy. You can grow your margins as well as your plants.

 

Lisa Brodeur is a quality assurance supervisor with 360 Energy.

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