For the Netherlands Agency for Energy and the Environment, Novem, CE has reviewed the topic of industrial process integration, examining the roles of various actors in whether or not such measures are successfully implemented. The aim was to identify means of resolving bottlenecks in the threesided relationship between owner, consultant and contractor, to improve the success rate. Perspectives considered included the use of standardised computer software and the scope for steering by means of other incentives, geared to water conservation, for example. The role played by consultants proved to be important. A good consultant takes a long-term view of process integration, looking at water and raw materials use, labour issues and details of project scheduling, over and above energy issues, the principal focus to date. In this respect software can be no more than a supplementary tool and is no substitute for the skills of a good consultant.
One factor often thwarting process integration is the relatively low cost of energy and water, creating a greater incentive to save on financial charges, raw materials or labour. Faced with what may be a coherent package of process integration measures, companies tend to pick out those that are most profitable and involve least risk. A truly integrated approach is thereby abandoned, despite an often acceptable payback. Changing certain basic system constraints (the price of energy or CO2 emissions, for example) may help improve the success rate of process integration projects.