The Energy Diet
By: Carroll McCormick
Energy In Industrial Facilities Starts With A Positive Attitude,
Just Like A Real Diet.
There is no shame
in cutting energy costs, but sometimes the horse simply refuses
to be led to water, let alone made to drink. Yet cutting
electricity, natural gas or bunker fuel consumption -- whatever
-- can be a quick way to cut overhead in perpetuity. Looked at
another way, it is like a new source of guaranteed income.
Doyle-Kelly, the Montreal-based owner of Eco-Watt Inc., sells
energy-saving solutions backed by insured guarantees. Still, the
excuses he gets from those not wanting to drink his water are
worthy of a novelty coffee cup: too busy, no manpower, other
projects, focus on production, 'gotta get product out the door'
and so on. "People have an attitude that they don't have time
for this," Doyle-Kelly says.
It is certainly
true that saving energy can sometimes require big-ticket
projects. Quebec-based Building Products of Canada Corp., to
cite a high-end example, has done some major work in its Pointe
Rouge, QC, plant to cut its energy costs. These expenses have
variously included up to 18 million cubic feet of natural gas,
64 million kWh of electricity and 500,000 litres of bunker fuel
a year. Pointe Rouge manufactures wood fibre board to make
value-added products like decorative wood panel, industrial
panel, sheeting for exterior walls and roof insulation lining.
automated its refiners in 2006-2007, cutting out one phase of
the refining process. This resulted in savings of $370,000 a
year in electricity. Cutting steam use knocked another $150,000
off the annual electricity bill. Another project will save 2.5
million cubic feet of natural gas and about 5 million kWh of
electricity a year, through the installation of a different heat
exchanger and a boiler upgrade. Yet another project will
eliminate the use of bunker fuel.
pharmaceutical giant Glaxo-SmithKline (GSK) issued an edict in
2007 that it would begin a company-wide initiative to conserve
energy. The goal is to reduce the 2006 level of energy
consumption by 20% by 2015.
Mississauga, ON, plant started with HVAC and building envelope
projects that cut energy use by 5 million kWh, or 10% in 2009.
The focus for 2010 is to start saving energy on the production
lines through behaviour modification -- a low-investment
"We are trying to
make sure operators understand that when lines are not running,
that all the equipment and compressed dry air lines are [to be]
shut off. Our equipment uses a lot of compressed dry air. We
want to make sure that these compressed dry air systems are
turned off when they are not needed. There will be, for example,
training and signage," explains Oliver Yeung, an EHS
(environment, health and safety) compliance partner at the
the Mississauga plant plans to launch soon is the repair of many
minute leaks in the compressed dry air system. "A 2007 audit
showed that they add up to significant costs," Yeung says. Very
conservatively, GSK could reap a $2 return for each $1 invested
in repairing leaks. The actual amount of avoided costs per
dollar invested could be far higher.
"There is a
significant impact that small actions can have. These are things
that anybody can do to save energy," Yeung suggests.
opportunity to save energy in perpetuity drops into a company's
lap when equipment has to be replaced or upgraded. In April
2010, a new evaporator will come on line at the Acadian
Seaplants Ltd. seaweed extraction facility in Cornwallis, NS.
Part of the company's continuous improvement program, it will
replace an earlier design dating to 1998 that slurps up 150,000
litres of fuel oil a year. The new evaporator will cut the fuel
use in half. Incidentally, adding a cooling tower is going to
reduce cooling water requirements by 90%.
Two classes of
energy gobblers found in all manufacturing plants are lights and
motors, notes Doyle-Kelly. Eco-Watt counts among its projects a
lighting retrofit in a bakery, and estimates that such
retrofits, as part of a project, can drive down lighting costs
down by as much as 50% to 60%. In a building project that should
provide inspiration to manufacturing plants, Eco-Watt
retrofitted 350 lamps that burned 24/7, dialling down the light
bill from $19,000 to just $8,000 a year.
consumption of motors
Montreal boot manufacturer Genfoot Inc. has completed several
projects to save electricity. For example, in the 1990s the
company achieved some energy savings by installing capacitors
that regulated peak demand. In 2004, just as Genfoot was in the
process of taking the next step in saving energy, Eco-Watt made
contact with the company about products that it installs, which
would cut the cost of running electric motors.
came along, we were consuming as much as $26,000 worth of
electricity a month -- a lot of energy. We realized that we were
due for another improvement," says Arold Isaac, production
manager at Genfoot. "It was good timing. Eco-Watt could go much
further and do broader energy savings than just capacitors. They
were able to reduce consumption, rather than change how we pay
declines to reveal exactly how his products work, but simply
put, the devices are wired to motors and reduce the amount of
amperes they draw. In one Genfoot machine, for example, his
equipment reduced the amperage draw from 21 down to 15.7. In
another, the amperage dropped from 3.3 down to 2.1.
"The total savings
for motors is typically 8%," Doyle-Kelly says. He adds that the
technology he uses is passive, maintenance-free and will serve
for as long as 20 years.
Eco-Watt began at
Genfoot with a plant walkabout. Satisfied that there were energy
savings to be had, Doyle-Kelly prepared an audit proposal, then
did a plant-wide energy audit. He then prepared a plan that
guaranteed a certain amount of energy savings, backed by an
insurance company. If the savings amount to less than what
Eco-Watt predicted, the policy pays the client the difference.
Isaac confesses to
having been somewhat sceptical of the technology Eco-Watt uses
to reduce the power that motors draw. "Their technology was new
to us. But they took all the measurables; for example, the
number of hours the machines operated and the number of motors.
When Eco-Watt was convinced that there were dollars to be saved
at the end, we started participating."
in its own electricians to retrofit its amperage-reducing
product to the motors, some as large as 50 hp, on 66 pieces of
equipment. "We wired up the products, bolted them to the wall
near the motors and ran the wires to the motor disconnects. The
only downtime for the motor was 10 to 15 minutes when the
electricians attached the wires into the motor disconnect,"
Doing the audit
and then implementing the project caused only minor
inconvenience, Isaac recalls: "We helped Eco-Watt understand the
machines and how they consumed electricity. We did not have to
invest that much time. Eco-Watt spent two days here on their own
after we showed them around."
Isaac reports that
the electricity savings were about 7% in the first year.
Doyle-Kelly notes that the payback time to a company on the cost
of the turnkey installation of his product is two to three
Isaac admits that
he was already a convert to the virtues of saving energy and did
not have to be dragged kicking and screaming to the well. "We
were already convinced."
viewpoint, "Genfoot saw this as a no-risk way to generate extra
cash at the bottom line."
Carroll McCormick, an award-winning writer, is the senior
contributing editor for Machinery & Equipment MRO.