April 2023 – Polish Energy Scouts reduce the consumption of compressed air and natural gas

With around 26,000 employees, the British Imperial Brands plc. is the fourth-largest supplier of tobacco products in the world. Not far from Poznań in Poland, the subsidiary Imperial Tobacco Polska S.A. operates one of two Polish production sites. The Energy Scouts Dominik Bryk, Krzysztof Grzesiak, Marzena Kaźmierczak, Adrian Organiściak and Jakub Pniewski work there – very intentionally, the team is composed of employees from areas with the energy-intensive processes.

After the first training sessions from the Young Energy Europe project at the AHK Poland, the team developed two promising approaches within the company to save energy: On the one hand, electricity in the compressed air area and on the other natural gas in drying processes.

To reduce compressed air consumption, the team first tried to identify all areas where compressed air is used for blowing. During the course of the analysis, the team identified more than a dozen locations with continuous compressed air blowing. After talking with the employees who operate the machines at these sites, the team decided to replace the continuous blowouts with timed blowouts because a short burst of compressed air serves the same purpose.

In addition, sensors were installed to detect the presence of packaging and set the compressed air blast at just the right time. Furthermore, control cabinets were also cooled with compressed air; at the suggestion of the Energy Scouts, energy-efficient fans now do this job. Thanks to the three measures, the team significantly reduced compressed air consumption on the packaging machines. An estimated 677 MWh of electricity is saved annually for the generation of compressed air, which means a CO2 saving of 473 t per year based on the Polish electricity mix. The compressed air measures pay for themselves after only 16 (!) days, despite conversion costs and investments of €2,888.

The second approach is to reduce natural gas consumption by developing an optimal operating standard for so-called tobacco cake dryers. The team started to determine the natural gas consumption for the production of a certain amount of the final product. The analysis revealed that the process at the compared plants was not identical and optimization measures were possible. After discussions with staff, it was decided to implement an indicator to monitor daily natural gas consumption and compare it to the amount of tobacco cut produced. In this way, suboptimal running production lines can be quickly identified by employees. In addition, the operating standards of the tobacco chip dryers were optimized. For example, the times for shutdown or “standby mode” were jointly redefined.

The inclusion and growing awareness of the employees concerned to the optimization process even encouraged the workforce to make further suggestions for improvements to reduce energy consumption in the factory.

The Polish jury awarded a special prize to the Energy Scouts’ practical project for the significant reduction in energy and gas consumption with a short payback period, low costs and exemplary employee awareness measures.

Compressed Air Systems

System Optimization


  • Industry sector: tobacco products manufacturer
  • Energy source: electrical energy/natural gas
  • Energy savings potential electricity: 677.3 MWh/year
  • CO2 savings potential: 473 tons CO2/year (electrical energy)
  • Energy savings potential natural gas: 889.11 MWh/year
  • CO2 savings potential: 179,6 tons CO2/year (natural gas)
  • Investment costs: 2,888 €
  • Payback period: 16 days
A man and a woman in yellow Young Energy Europe vests are next to the assembly line of a production room. The woman is pointing at the top of a connection from the assembly line with cables and gears, the man is also looking at it.
Through the use of sensors, compressed air is used here precisely and as needed in the conveying process. (©Imperial Tobacco Polska S.A.)
Two men in yellow Young Energy Europe vests stand in an aisle of tobacco cake dryers and look at one of the devices.
Tobacco is dried here; thanks to optimization, natural gas consumption fell. (©Imperial Tobacco Polska S.A.)
A man in the foreground points to the display of an air compressor. A second man is standing behind with a folder is also looking at it. Both are wearing yellow Young Energy Europe vests.
Daily compressed air consumption dropped significantly. (©Imperial Tobacco Polska S.A.)