The pharmaceutical industry in the US consumes around one billion dollars in energy in one year. Energy consumption represents a large portion of the manufacturing plants’ budget, which in times of economic crisis is utterly relevant. To improve energy efficiency there is a wide variety of opportunities at each individual manufacturing plant’s disposal. Pharmaceutical consulting firms can provide an array of solutions to reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency, as well as keep the plant environmentally clean.

Several studies based on real world applications from pharmaceutical manufacturing companies have shown that savings in energy and energy-related costs can be achieved by different measures, in all cases guided by professional pharmaceutical consulting firms. Energy consumption reduction is crucial for companies to maintain overall efficiency and the quality of the products at the same time as costs are reduced.

The costs of the pharmaceutical industry’s energy have continuously grown since 1987, and this has directly influenced the industry’s prices. The type of product has also had a direct relation on the total consumption of energy. Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) uses up much of the energy in plants, so the focus must be put on applications with motors such as pumps and fans in order to reduce energy costs.

Key factors that affect a particular plant in terms of energy consumption include the type of facility (such as research and development or bulk production), the products that are manufactured in the plant, its location, and the efficiency of its systems.

If we analyze a breakdown of energy use in pharmaceutical plants, the most energy is used by bulk manufacturing, representing about 35 % of the total. Research and development takes up 30 % of energy, while formulation, packaging and filling, 15 %. The offices and warehouses take up no more than 25 % altogether.

Improving energy management can be tackled from different angles. An integral, corporate program is fundamental: it should include facility, health, safety, and management of employees. The use of efficient, working motors is essential, as well as the optimization of the different compressed air systems. These provide opportunities for energy cutbacks and savings. Also, keeping low laboratories ventilation can reduce energy use significantly. The whole production system can be fine tuned to reduce the amount of energy consumption and, in the end, save money.

This, however, does not happen on its own, nor is it accomplished overnight. A clear and decisive management program needs to be put into action, and employees and managers must be educated in order to apply the measures indicated by professionals. It should be an ongoing process and one in which all stages of production work together, in order for it to work and for the company to achieve the best results.