Best Practices Awards - Energy

Read the winning entry (and runner ups) to the 2007 Plant Services Best Practices Award - Energy category.

By Paul Studebaker, CMRP, Editor in Chief

Winner : Lighting retrofits lead efforts to conserve energy

During the next two years, 148 GE Industrial manufacturing plants and warehouses worldwide — 110 in the Americas, 36 in Europe and two in Asia — will undergo extensive lighting retrofits that could cut annual lighting energy costs an average of 50% at each facility.

Based on extensive energy-savings analysis conducted at 65 of the 148 facilities, the retrofit will allow each location, on an average annualized basis, to reduce energy consumption by 1.4 million KwH and realize approximately $86,000 in energy cost savings. Estimates for the completed 148-facility retrofit include reducing energy consumption by 210.5 million KwH and saving $12.8 million in energy costs, annually, when compared with the older lighting.

Another forecasted environmental benefit is producing 155,700 fewer metric tons of CO2, which equates to the pollution from nearly 30,000 average-sized cars or the good that comes from planting more than 70 square miles of trees.

In August 2004, before GE launched its ecomagination environmental initiative, Jack Fish, vice president of global manufacturing, GE Consumer and Industrial, asked his team to devise a plan to cut energy costs by 20%. He wanted to counter forecast energy price increases that were sure to affect the profitability of GE Consumer and Industrial's Appliances, Lighting, Lighting Systems and Electrical Distribution operating units.

Conversations with plant managers and lighting executives kept returning to lighting retrofits, which the lighting unit had been promoting externally among customers as the fastest way to slow down watt-hour meters, and thereby cut wasteful spending on energy.

“An overall cost-of-light calculation used by the Lighting business sealed the deal,” notes Fish.

The calculation points out that as little as 4% of the overall cost of light may be attributable to the cost of lamps. Eight percent is commonly traced to installation and maintenance, while the majority, as much as 88%, represents energy consumption. (These percentages are approximations. Actual costs vary based on local electricity and labor rates, the nature of the facility, the type of lighting installed and other factors.)

“Very few GE Consumer and Industrial plants were using energy-efficient linear fluorescent lamps,” reports Fish. “We simply weren't taking our own good advice. Now, though, we're on track to achieve a 50% reduction in lighting energy consumption at these plants. That's two-and-a-half times our initial savings target.”

In many of the plants targeted for retrofits — 10 plants have been converted as of January 2006 — older technologies such as standard high-pressure sodium or standard metal halide lamps are the previous lamps of choice. Primary elements of each upgrade are six-lamp T8 High Bay linear fluorescent systems featuring UltraMax electronic ballasts, which cut power consumption by more than 50% — from 465 to 220 watts per fixture at the ballast. This energy-saving choice also dramatically upgrades the quality of light. With the new T8 lamps, the color-rendering index (CRI) climbs to 80 from 22 CRI for standard high-pressure sodium lamps or 65 CRI for standard metal halide lamps. The horizontal foot-candle measurement — how wide light spreads out as it's projected from a fixture — more than triples.
General Electric, www.gelighting.com.

Runners up

Save energy with synthetic oils

In a variety of common industrial machines, including compressors and gearboxes, synthetic oil improves energy efficiency between 1% and 14% compared to mineral oils. For example, a 60-hp gearbox uses 7.5% less energy with synthetic oil, giving an annual energy savings of $1,904 at 6 cents per kWh.

Anderol, www.anderol.com.

Save energy by coating worn pump internal surfaces

A large water treatment facility restored worn and corroded centrifugal pump internal surfaces with sandblasting and low-friction coatings applied in the field during pump rebuilds. Tests performed on a 75-hp Goulds pump in the facility showed energy efficiency improved 18% by refurbishing (from 64% to 82%)

Devcon, www.devcon.com.

Purifying compressor oil saves energy and maintenance

An ultra-fine particle filtration and ion-exchange acid adsorption system on a rotary-screw air compressor extended fluid life more than three times, separator life more than two-and-a-half times, and reduced energy consumption an estimated 3%, yielding a 125% ROI and a payback of less than 10 months.

Fluid Metrics, www.fluidmetrics.com.

Replacing V-belt with synchronous belt drives saves energy and maintenance

Air-conditioning V-belt drives were failing prematurely because of excessive sheave wear. Replacing them with non-slip synchronous belt drives reduced maintenance and parts-replacement costs and produced energy savings of 8%, resulting in a payback of six months.

Gates, www.gates.com.

System approach improves efficiency and compressed air quality

A plant consolidated 400 hp of air compressor capacity into an engineered system including storage, air treatment and controls. On startup, the new system used about 175 hp, a 50% reduction in power consumption. Data from the control system led to further energy savings and consumption is now down to 130 hp to 140 hp.

Kaeser, www.kaeser.com.

Save energy with a high-turndown boiler

A plant replaced bent-tube atmospheric boilers (maximum efficiency 75% to 80% at 100% output) with a high-efficiency, high turndown boiler (efficiency 85% or higher at loads from 35% to 100%). The plant experienced a 30% increase in per-therm productivity and 23% decrease in gas usage per pound of product.

Miura Boiler, www.miuraboiler.com.

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