At the end of 2010 four trainees at the Mulfingen plant went in search of “energy guzzlers” in the production process. Using technical aids, they located, documented and repaired leaks in compressed air systems: The Energy scouts were born. “In the first year alone, we eliminated around 100 leaks and so saved 100,000 euro,” says Lisa Bahr, responsible for energy and the environment in the Operation, Maintenance and Building department, who has been involved from the outset. The St. Georgen plant soon joined in with its own Energy scout programme. Since then all the German plants and the branch in Hungary have formed similar teams as well. Every year the people acting as Energy scouts pass on their knowledge to four new trainees to help the company save energy – after all, new leaks can appear at any time so that there is never any shortage of work for the scouts.
The prize-winning project has also received positive acclaim beyond the bounds of ebm-papst. “The idea is so good that it deserves to be more widely known,” says Stefan Gölz from the management of the Heilbronn Franken Chamber of Commerce. Together with ebm-papst he is currently working on adapting the model for courses to be held by the Chamber of Commerce with a view to teaching trainees from other companies how to become Energy scouts. The courses are intended to start in the Heilbronn Franken region, to be followed by 18 Chambers of Commerce throughout Germany at a later date. “Particularly with regard to energy efficiency it is important to have concrete results to show and get employees directly involved. So the courses are of an extremely practical nature. Trainees are the ideal target group for such a project, as they adopt the appropriate attitude right from the start of their careers and keep the idea alive within the company,” says Gölz.
ebm-papst has not just passed on its expertise to Chambers of Commerce, but also directly to other companies. As part of the GreenDay 2013, the Mulfingen Energy scouts provided a whole day’s theoretical and practical instruction for trainees and training managers from ten companies. To accompany this event, two tutorial videos were also produced giving step-by-step instructions on correct use of the thermal imaging camera and compressed air leak detector. Lisa Bahr: “It is a delight to see how much interest there is in the Energy scouts. This project shows how any company can save energy employing simple means.”