ABB facility lights the way to energy efficiency


Source: ABB

ABB has an extensive portfolio of technologies to help its customers use power efficiently and exploit renewable sources of energy. But the Group has also been running a two-year program to reduce consumption internally by 5 percent per manufactured unit.

ABB country organizations and individual facilities took up this challenge and many have exceeded the goal targeted for the years 2006 to 2007. At Coral Springs, for instance, the 75,000 square-foot plant making protective relays and switches cut total energy consumption by 13 percent in 2007 compared with 2006, saving $30,000 in operating costs.

The savings were achieved after an analysis of the facility’s lighting and climate controls.

Shedding light on shredding energy usage

A major contributor to energy savings came from upgrading the lighting system, although this was a by-product of efforts to improve health and safety in the plant. A review of the lighting was carried out because of concerns about the ergonomics of the work environment and safety conditions for the 100 people based at the facility.

“The manufacturing area has high ceilings so a lot of task lighting was being used, which was the impetus for investigating a more efficient lighting system,” said Gail Gonnam, human resources manager and safety officer for the site.

The study resulted in the replacement, at a cost of $34,000, of all the existing lights in the plant with 280-watt Blue Max T5/6 fluorescent lighting. The bulbs generate 60°C (140°F) of heat, seven times less than the old metal halide bulbs, helping to reduce air conditioning use by as much as 20 percent.

They also provide a more natural light, which has made it possible to eliminate 50 percent of task lighting in the plant.

Climate control was the next target as it was known at the Coral Springs site that air conditioning was a major source of energy consumption.

“Although we knew that this was the case, there was no clear data identifying just how much energy was being used,” said Gonnam, “So we enlisted the help of the University of Miami Industrial Assessment Center (MIIAC) to perform an energy audit, under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.”

By using electronic instruments connected to strategic parts of the building and air conditioning systems, the MIIAC researchers collected data and plotted the electrical consumption of the equipment over a period of 36 weeks.

“The team discovered that air conditioning accounted for two-thirds of the building’s entire energy usage, and a substantial amount of energy was being used when the plant was closed - on weekends and nights,” Gonnam said.

The MIIAC team outlined nine recommendations, and included the cost of their implementation and the anticipated savings.

“To date we have installed weather stripping on the doors, adjusted the temperature controls, and changed the duration of the cooling times on the 16 air conditioner units,” explains Gonnam.

he site is also replacing belts on production motors, installing two new dock door seals and conducting an air compressor leak assessment.

Having experienced the potential of relatively simple measures, managers of the Coral Springs plant are now looking into further opportunities for energy savings. They are working with the power supplier, Florida Power and Light Company (FP&L), to explore ways of actually reducing energy consumption.

One idea under consideration is the installation of a generator to power the entire plant. FP&L would fit it with a load management device, which could reduce the electricity bill by 6 percent a year.

The team at Coral Springs is aiming to cut energy consumption by a further 5 percent this year, bringing total energy savings to 18 percent compared with 2006. The Florida plant is also sharing its experiences and knowledge with a number of other ABB facilities seeking to implement similar measures.

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