Beyond Smart Energy

In an industrial setting, when investment in smart technology doesn't equal that of training for the workforce, the potential efficiency and productivity gains of the former will always be crippled. And so as U.S. manufacturers navigate the slippery incline of recovery, they are beginning to look beyond "smart" and toward "intelligent" solutions that advance user understanding of their tools and how those tools work together in order to realize the full benefit of the technologies.

Industry Week Associate Editor Travis Hessman writes that today's energy-management goals require something more than just smart technologies -- they need intelligent solutions.

Smart energy has dominated the industrial energy efficiency conversation for years, highlighting standalone technologies—and those that aren't as standalone as they seem—employed to bring down usage costs. These include investments in such technologies as low-energy lighting systems or HVAC projects designed to smooth out peaks in usage.

Hessman uses 3M as an example, as it earned Energy Star's sustained excellence award for energy efficiency for the eighth year in a row -- the only company ever to do so. 3M has developed a culture of workers in its plants that are energy aware and committed to continuous improvement in that regard, just as they are for quality and safety...