Idle running of machinery is primarily a concern in the manufacturing, mining, and oil and gas sectors. Conveyor systems running with no product, mining vehicles left idling during downtime and pumps recirculating when there’s no demand are examples of where idle running can be reduced or eliminated.

Sectors and common applications

  • Manufacturing – dryers, pumps, mixers, evaporators, furnaces, fans
  • Mining – crushers, conveyors, mobile equipment, pumps, fans
  • Oil and gas – pumps, fans, boilers


  • 71.8/100
  • Energy saving across sectors is 61 PJ (2014 estimate).


Indicator Score
1. Energy saving and cost achievement  
1.1 Energy saving 12/15
1.2 Cost effectiveness 6/10
1.3 Prospect 4/10
2. Market contexts  
2.1 Sector energy savings 8/10
2.2 % of industry $ gross added value 8/10
3. Originality and innovation  
3.1 Originality 6/10
3.2 Innovation 6/10
4. Transferability/replicability
4.1 General applicability 5/5
4.2 Ease of implementation 4/5
4.3 Ability to integrate external resources 4/5
5. Co-benefits
5.1 Environmental 7/7
5.2 Social awareness 1.8/3


Ford Motor Company of Australia Ltd implemented an energy saving mode (ESM) of operation for the paint shop air supply system. When the ESM is activated, during non-production periods the air supply system will work at 20% of normal rated capacity. This project is saving 80 450 GJ per year.

Nestle Australia’s analysis of three large product dryers and coolers identified they were wasting about two hours per day by running with no product in them. During these periods the dryers and coolers revert to idle mode but still consume significant natural gas and electricity. A time-based system to automatically shut down the dryers and coolers exists but continual use of a manual override system has limited its effectiveness. Optimisation of the auto shutdown feature and limiting manual override capability will deliver energy and cost savings.

Other companies which have identified idle running as a source of energy savings include:

For more information, see:

Opportunities – General manufacturing

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