HOMERVILLE, GA – For many years, Lee Container in Homerville, Georgia, has lowered costs by using Lean tools to complete Continuous Improvement projects. However, in 2017, the company began to wonder if they could save money in a different way. Because the plant’s utility bills were often over a million dollars annually, the company’s president, Robert Varnedoe, thought they may be able to cut costs by implementing better energy management practices. To identify and understand their opportunities for improvement, Varnedoe reached out to the Georgia-North Florida Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) to set up a no-cost energy and sustainability assessment.
After an initial questionnaire and interview, a team of
students and engineers from the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering thoroughly reviewed
Lee Container’s utility bills. Then, they visited the plant and utilized
equipment such as infrared cameras and probes to collect data and assess the
company’s operations and equipment.
A few weeks later, they provided the company with a report
including information about the current energy use at each production line and
throughout the facility, including warehousing and office areas. The report
also included five Assessment Recommendations with estimated costs and payback
periods. The recommendations ranged from simple investments in insulation to
installation of a solar array, but all estimated a payback period of less than five
Since completing an IAC energy assessment with GaMEP, Lee
Implemented 3 out of 5 Assessment Recommendations.
Invested approximately $16,000 in equipment upgrades, including conversion to LED lighting and improvements to HVAC systems.
Lowered the company’s energy costs by over $27,000 per year, which has already paid back the initial investment.
Used the report to help them make decisions about future equipment expenditures and energy management goals.
“The IAC team was great to work with. We got the report back quickly and it helped us assess both why our energy costs were high and how we could improve. We have already implemented many of their recommendations and have seen great results.” – Robert Varnedoe, president
MARIETTA, GA – This July a team of three engineering students from the Georgia Tech Industrial Assessment Center, led by Assistant Director Sinan Sinharoy and Georgia Manufacturing Extension Partnership (GaMEP) engineer Jason Clarke, performed an energy assessment for the High Road Craft Ice Cream manufacturing facility in Marietta, Georgia. The team spent a full day at the facility, during which time they interviewed facility personnel about operational and maintenance practices, generated several recommendation ideas, and used state-of-the-art equipment to monitor and measure key data. The team’s final report proposed 7 recommendations with estimated energy savings of 41.3%, and total projected cost savings of almost $70,000 per year.
One unique recommendation promoted to the facility was the installation of a direct-fire water heater to heat clean-in-place water instead of directly injecting steam. This proposal would significantly improve heating efficiency due to the avoidance of steam production, which is an energy intensive process that requires extensive maintenance. Other recommendations included heat recovery of boiler condensate, reduction of the air compressor pressure set point, and installation of roll-up freezer and cooler doors.
One of the facility’s best practices involves management’s desire to monitor and measure key characteristics related to energy and water consumption. Facility personnel are looking into meters to track both steam production and water demand for the clean-in-place process.
SANDERSVILLE, GA – Recently, a team of four engineering students from the Georgia Tech Industrial Assessment Center, led by Director Dr. Comas Haynes and Assistant Director Sinan Sinharoy, performed an energy assessment for Trojan Battery’s AGM/Deep Cycle Lead Acid Battery manufacturing facility in Sandersville, Georgia. The team conducted a comprehensive walk-through of the 291,000 square foot facility, during which time they interviewed facility personnel about operational and maintenance practices in the facility, generated several recommendation ideas, and deployed data loggers to take measurements. The team’s final report proposed 9 recommendations with estimated electricity and natural gas savings of 10.9% and 6.5%, respectively, and total projected cost savings of almost $300,000 per year.
One unique recommendation promoted to the facility was the reduction of the lead pot temperatures for lead grid-casting. This proposal would not impact the process but would significantly improve energy performance due to reduced electrical heater cycling. Other recommendations included the installation of oven exhaust stack insulation, compressed air leak repairs, and a dust collection control system with variable speed drives.
One of the facility’s best practices involves the recycling of a large amount of water used to thermally manage the battery charging process. This conservation practice minimizes the facility’s annual water consumption and cost.
The Georgia – North Florida Industrial Assessment Center had a successful 2017, with 15 assessments performed across Georgia, and $1.84 million in recommended savings. See the image below for some fun facts about our work in 2017.