Efficiency Through Technology
Efficiency generally implies „a relation between provided service and resource input“. It is easily comprehensible that, given a reduction of the resource input along with consistent performance, the efficiency increases; at the same time, though, a reduction of the use of resources lowers the costs and thus a positive effect on success is being achieved. (1)
Basically, any production strives for development. However, the development can be achieved in different ways. The industrial development is divided into extensive and intensive development. Extensive development is based on a quantitative increase in production capacity with a constant technical potential. In this case, the capacities are being achieved through increasing the number of the means of production (more devices, machinery, equipment), through the launching of new production lines and facilities as well as the involvement of more and more natural resources in the manufacturing process, and through increasing the number of employees. In the given case, the technical development remains at the same level. Though the largest manufacturing giants following this path of growth are efficient through their strong brand awareness, large customer base and production volume, but this efficiency depends on the state of the market. These enterprises are also strongly affected by seasonal fluctuations and inflexible in the case of changing market conditions. Additionally, constantly increasing demands on products and services require new technologies and trained professionals.
On the contrary, an intensive development of production is not a quantitative but a qualitative change. It means, primarily, an increase of efficiency that can mainly be achieved in the following ways:
Reduction in energy consumption per manufactured unit
Energy efficiency is important not only from an environmental perspective. In times of rising energy prices, the economic aspect of energy use is becoming increasingly important, as the enhancing of energy efficiency enables industrial enterprises to reduce production costs and thus to generate additional profits.
Measures for the enhancement of the energy efficiency in technological processes comprise, among other things,
The main focus in energy supply should be placed on efficient conversion technologies. Basing on the principles of energetic effect on physical and chemical properties of material, some technological processes can be designed much more efficiently. Examples of efficient energy supply sources include generators for inductive and dielectric heating, technological laser and plasma generators. (2)
Recuperation refers to a procedure for energy recovery, which would otherwise be lost. This can refer to both thermal energy as well as mechanical and electrical energy. Such types of energy recovery can be used to enhance the energy efficiency. (3)
Along with the expansion of renewable energies, the importance of energy storage will steadily increase, as without a comprehensive storage concept no efficient use of renewable energies is possible (4). The use of energy storage systems in production is an important current topic, for it not only allows the usage of renewable energies, but also reduces peak loads (5).
The efficiency can in many cases be enhanced through optimized process control and better maintenance (6).
Increasing labour productivity
An increase in labour productivity, brought about mainly due to higher intensity of work, can be achieved through a greater physical and mental effort. For in this case the number of workers as well as the quantity and standard of mechanical equipment remain unchanged. The increase in labour productivity can, though, also be achieved through a reduction of work intensity, namely due to the introduction of new technologies as well as due to automation and modernization of production. Optimization of personnel structure also belongs to essential tools. Improving employee skills and enhancing the ratio of managers to staff can also contribute to increasing the efficiency of human labour.
Material frequency is frequently being defined as reduction of material use in products. The measures to increase material efficiency are in this case mostly aimed at cutting back the energy consumption and at related cost reduction. One example of this is production cost optimization aiming at the complete prevention of waste in manufacturing process. Undoubtedly, the use of recycled materials from production waste makes a significant contribution to improving the energy efficiency (7).
Another topic related to material efficiency is the efficient use of material properties, which is currently not yet given enough weight to. However, an efficient use of material also means the efficient use of material properties. „Functional properties of high-performance materials (e.g. ceramics) open up additional potentials in the use of energy throughout the entire life cycle. The use of long-lasting, wear-resistant key components reduces resp. prevents downtime due to maintenance, thus contributing significantly to an energy-efficient design of production processes. For an optimal system design it is crucial to achieve specific material properties exactly where they are being needed. The development of material-specific, fit-for-purpose connection technologies plays a key role herewith, as the increasingly smaller systems demand the implementation of ever more complex operations and functions“ (8).
Furthermore, it is also possible to provide a construction part with additional mechanical and physical characteristics due to a specific construction, design, or shape. In this case the properties, which normally are not typical of the material of this part, are meant (e.g. thermally thin body). Another example is providing a graphite component with insulation properties through its construction (9).
In conclusion, it can be noted that, that in the current time of modern technologies, of energy transition and resource scarcity the so-called „intensive way“ of economic growth is indispensable both for large corporations as well as for small and medium-sized enterprises. Moreover, for small and medium-sized companies it is nearly the only possible way of economic growth. Due to their high motivation and innovative capacities, to the ability to react flexibly to changing conditions, and to well-trained skilled workers the small and medium-sized enterprises perfectly meet the criteria for this way of development and are thus a guarantee of success of the modern economy (10).
 Lambert/Burduroglu (2000), Lambert, Douglas M./Burduroglu, Renan (2000): Measuring and Selling the Value of Logistics. In: The International Journal of Logistics Management, 11(2000)1, S. 1-17; S. 9; zitiert nach David Thomas: Gestaltung effizienter BI-Prozesse in informationsintensiven Dienstleistungsunternehmen: Ein informationslogistischer Ansatz zur Auswahl einer effizienten Prozessvariante, 2015; S.130.
 Energie Lexikon: https://www.energie-lexikon.info/rekuperation.html, [10.07.2018].
 Environmental and Energy Study Institute: Industrial Energy Efficiency. Using new technologies to reduce energy use in industry and manufacturing, Washington DC, May 2006; zittiert durch https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energieeffizienz#cite_note-EESI-5, [10.07.2018].
 Frauenhofer Institut: Energieeffizienz in der Produktion. Untersuchung zum Handlungs- und Forschungsbedarf; S.12; online: https://www.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/zv/de/forschungsthemen/energie/Studie_Energieeffizienz-in-der-Produktion.pdf.
 Frauenhofer Institut: Energieeffizienz in der Produktion. Untersuchung zum Handlungs- und Forschungsbedarf; S.7; Online: https://www.fraunhofer.de/content/dam/zv/de/forschungsthemen/energie/Studie_Energieeffizienz-in-der-Produktion.pdf.
 IB Engineering GmbH: Beispiele der Effizienzsteigerung in den Teilprozessen bei der Produktion von Produkten aus Mineralwolle, online: http://www.ibe.at/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Beispiele-der-Effizienzsteigerung-in-den-Teilprozessen.pdf.
 Bundesministerium für Digitalisierung und Wirtschaftsstandort: https://www.bmdw.gv.at/Unternehmen/UnternehmensUndKMU-Politik/Seiten/KleineundmittlereUnternehmeninOesterreich_FactsandFeatures.aspx; [10.07.2018].