CHICAGO (June 27, 9:30 a.m. EDT) — Blow molder Lifetime Products Inc. of Clearfield, Utah, has saved tens of thousands of dollars by consolidating cooling requirements and installing electronic fluid control sensors and switches.
Annually, Lifetime uses million of pounds of high-molecular-weight polyethylene in blow molding components for basketball equipment, tables, chairs and sheds.
Auxiliary equipment provider AEC Inc. of Wood Dale, Ill., and sensor supplier IFM Efector Inc. of Exton, Pa., played key roles in the equipment transformation.
Lifetime was operating four separate AEC water systems that went into service over several years. The firm grew and added blow molding equipment and a few injection molding machines. Eventually, the plastics processing facility of 120,000 square feet neared maximum capacity.
In 2002 Lifetime began addressing the problem, drawing on knowledge from consultants and suppliers, and by 2004 the company had ordered equipment that was put into service in May 2005, said Bob Adams, plastics plant general manager.
“AEC offered the best package,” he said.
A single, highly efficient screw-compressor cooling system and process control feedback technology replaced four semihermetic-compressor chiller systems and four cooling tower systems, said Michael Mueller, corporate account manager for AEC. The new system uses more than 890 tons of refrigeration and 1,300 tons of cooling tower capacity.
The installation included a modular pump tank system, a motor control center with a programmable logic controller for data collection from sensors and output devices, and high-efficiency motors from Baldor Electric Co. of Fort Smith, Ark.
Mueller suggested IFM Efector's system feedback using fluid sensors, with communication capability and program-setup consistency. For years, Lifetime had used IFM Efector level sensors on conveying systems.
For energy conservation, “we wanted to adopt Winter Kooler technology, but it was never practical on four separate systems,” Adams said.
The new setup monitors wet bulb humidity sensors to maximize the hours of use of AEC's Winter Kooler system, which has oversized evaporative cooling towers instead of fluid coolers.
“During Winter Kooler operations, the expensive chillers turn off, and the process temperature is maintained by running the cooling towers and pumping system,” Adams said. Utah's desert-like climate provides a natural cooling system for almost nine months each year, he added.
AEC heat exchangers transfer the cool tower water to the process loop without mixing the two flows. The IFM Efector PNI Series differential pressure monitoring system checks heat exchanger cleanliness on the tower side.
For fluid temperature feedback, an IFM Efector monitor goes on the tank's exterior, and a remote platinum resistive temperature detector probe is installed directly in the tank. A compact pressure sensor is installed at the tank bottom to provide liquid level control.
Lifetime is among Utah's largest energy users. Financial incentives from PacifiCorp's Utah Power unit encouraged the company to streamline its power systems and conserve energy. In turn, Utah Power was able to delay adding infrastructure.
In 1973, owner Barry Mower started a predecessor to Lifetime Products in his Riverdale, Utah, garage. That firm, American Play World, evolved into Lifetime Products in 1986, and, in Clearfield, the privately owned business began manufacturing residential basketball equipment of steel and blow molded PE components, initially bought from vendors. The firm began in-house plastics processing in 1994.
Expanding into folding tables, Lifetime introduced blow molded PE tabletops and fully assembled picnic tables in 1995 and banquet tables with a PE top and steel frame in 1998. Now, Lifetime makes more than 3 million tabletops each year.
Lifetime is certified under ISO 9001:2000.
With its Clearfield operations occupying a total of 1.5 million square feet, Lifetime employs about 1,700 in the United States, including 200 in the plastics processing and mold-making operations.
More than 300 employees work in a wholly owned foreign enterprise that Lifetime established in Xiamen, China, in 2003.
AEC is a business of Wood Dale-based ACS Group.