Energy Management / HVAC System

Ohio injection molding plant gets cooler and brighter

In this installment of What Works, new fans and lights boost comfort and productivity.

When it set out to upgrade a 30,000 ft2 facility to house a custom injection molding plant, M3 Production had a problem on its hands: The original fluorescent lighting generated a lot of heat and very little light.

That didn’t cut it for M3 Production. The company’s operators need vivid light to examine small parts for cosmetic defects. In fact, some customers require a specific light level before agreeing to do business. Beyond that, M3 Production’s employees needed basic comfort, especially in the facility’s break area. And they needed a single company that could do it all, from a customized recommendation to installation.

After speaking with Danny Allen, vice president of operations at M3 Production, and a visit to the M3 plant in Bellefontaine, Ohio, 48 Big Ass High Bay LED fixtures and a 16-ft Powerfoil X2.0 fan were recommended and then installed in two days.

“They measured, modeled, and recommended everything that we needed for our lighting and air movement,” says Allen. “You don’t have to go through any middleman; you don’t have to go through any other sales representation. They are the sales, and they are the lighting supplier.”

what works lighting

A whole new light

M3 Production’s new facility came with existing fluorescent lighting units. The high-bay LEDs use far less energy and last much longer than fluorescent fixtures. The switch to LEDs provided instant benefits for M3 Production’s customers. The difference was stark, “like night and day,” says Allen. “It’s obvious that, with better lighting, you can pick up more defects,” he says. “You can see the defects more easily, and the operator is able to catch them before they get to the customer.”

The LEDs are constructed from durable, extruded aluminum to withstand the rigors of tough environments. The housing features a ribbed-fin design to dissipate heat and stay brilliant for up to 150,000 hours.

“The lighting is superior to anything we’ve seen in the manufacturing industry,” says Allen. “The operators can now see the product they’re inspecting a lot better; they’re able to detect flaws in the product that our customers would reject.”

Because M3 Production has environmental initiatives in place, the move from fluorescent lights to energy-efficient LED fixtures was a perfect fit. “It’s a much greener option than what we were using before,” says Allen. The high-bay LEDs are built with a patent-pending lumen maintenance tray that allows for cleaning and adjustments to redirect light as floor layouts change. Each fixture features a panel to facilitate upgrades to drivers and other components.

Improved comfort is another benefit. Replacing lights with energy-efficient LEDs can lower inside summer temperatures by as much as 3 °F in facilities without air conditioning, including M3 Production’s new space.

Cool breezes

When break time arrives for M3 Production employees, they now have a comfortable area in which to spend it. With the addition of a Powerfoil X2.0 fan, the break area, located in an open area near the production floor, is cool and comfortable.

When temperature and humidity levels rise, the body’s natural ability to cool itself decreases. Temperatures above 95 °F significantly increase physical stress. While air movement does not lower the actual temperature of a space, the airflow of a high-volume low-speed (HVLS) fan can make workers feel up to 10 °F cooler.

HVLS fans boost air quality and improve worker comfort year-round by creating cooling breezes in the summer months and recirculating heat all winter.
“The employees love the lighting,” says Allen. “They can see the product that’s being made, and they’re able to detect quality problems early on. And the fan constantly moves air, which boosts the overall comfort in the facility.”