Energy Efficiency in Industry: Pharmaceutical Manufacturing (2014-2015)

Energy efficiency is increasingly viewed as not just a technical problem, but also a management problem. This does not imply dismissal of myriad technology challenges and new ideas that lie on the horizon to advance the efficiency use of energy, but rather reflects the fact that many cost-effective energy-saving technologies remain unimplemented, even in firms with a profit motive to do so.

A major pharmaceutical company with global operations as well as a manufacturing presence in North Carolina, Merck, mentored this Bass Connections project team on various energy technology/management issues that it faces. The team worked with the mentor from the company to analyze energy efficiency/management issues, conduct data validation, perform a “deeper dive” into the process and laboratory-level data and develop predictive analytics using company and plant specific data.

Team members collected data for 13 sites in North America from 2009-2014: square footage by facility type; heating and cooling degree days; electricity consumption and price; and natural gas consumption and price. They conducted a regression analysis and developed an Excel tool for Merck to assess site efficiencies. Data analysis showed that the total amount of lab space in a facility is the main driver of electricity usage; specifically stability lab spaces and the finish/fill parenteral processes are the most energy-intensive; and the energy efficiency of plants that perform different functions can be compared using these data.


Fall 2014 – Spring 2015

Team Outcomes

Standardization for Energy Use Comparison across Merck’s North American Facilities (poster by Kayla Decarr, Matt Doolin, Evan Savell, Gale A. Boyd)

See related teams, Energy Efficiency in Industry: Motor Vehicle Manufacturing (2013-2014) and Energy Efficiency in Industry: High-tech Glass Manufacturing at Corning Inc. (2016-2017).

Team Leaders

/graduate Team Members

  • Ashley Brasovan, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment
  • Kayla Decarr, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment
  • Matthew Doolin, Master of Environmental Management, Energy and Environment
  • Mitesh Tank, Business Administration-MBA

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Zhaochu Chen, Economics (AB)
  • Yue Dai, Statistical Science (BS)
  • Jason Kim, Economics (BS)
  • Evan Savell, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Yiran Yang, Biomedical Engineering (BSE)

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Gale Boyd, Social Science Research Institute*
  • Josiah Knight, Pratt School of Engineering-Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science*

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Merck & Hanes