Three Vermont plants of Mack Molding Co. gained luminescence and are using less power under a recent energy-efficiency program.
Mack improved lighting in the Arlington, East Arlington and Cavendish facilities at a partially subsidized project cost of $434,000.
Goals included saving energy, minimizing maintenance, improving light level and quality and delivering a return on investment in two years or less.
Arlington-based Mack is meeting the goals. That includes steps toward a projected 1.82-year payback on the company portion of the investment, said Jeff Somple, president of Mack's northern operations.
Anything under two years is great, said Rick Cohee, president of Lighting Retrofit Services Inc. of Wilmington, Mass., which conducted a lighting audit of the three plants and then received a contract to replace or retrofit 2,111 fixtures before the end of December.
Vermont Energy Investment Corp. of Burlington, Vt., provided the significant but undisclosed rebate to Mack. VEIC, an independent nonprofit organization, operates the branded Efficiency Vermont program under contract to the Vermont Public Service Board in Montpelier, Vt., a regulator that collects an energy-efficiency charge from ratepayers.
The Mack project anticipates saving an estimated 1.7 million kilowatt-hours per year, which Efficiency Vermont says is equivalent to a reduction of 967 tons of carbon-dioxide emissions or taking 167 cars off the road.
Site requirements differed.
Mack's Cavendish plant dates back to 1890, and expansions and renovations over the years incorporated a mix of lighting technologies including incandescent, fluorescent and metal halide.
In the 150,000-square-foot Cavendish site, LRS replaced or retrofitted 766 fixtures, with 7 percent being equipped with on-off occupancy sensors. Light levels are at least 20 percent better.
The East Arlington plant has portions going back to 1910. LRS replaced or retrofitted 670 fixtures there, with 17 percent equipped with occupancy sensors. Again, light levels are at least 20 percent better.
Lighting in the older plants was fairly antiquated and probably went back to installations in the early 1970s, late 1960s or even earlier, Cohee said.
That was not the case at the 310,000-square-foot Arlington headquarters facility, which was completed in 1995-98. The T8 fluorescent lighting in the offices was current, so LRS focused on upgrading fixtures in other areas.
LRS installed 675 new fixtures with 22 percent equipped with occupancy sensors. Dramatic improvements in light levels included 175 percent in the warehouse, 65 percent in the plastics molding area, 47 percent in tooling, 34 percent in metals processing and 10 percent in assembly.
The changes eliminated lighting hot spots, shadows and glare.
Across the installations, Mack's Vermont employees have better light to be working in, Somple said in a telephone interview. Employees like it, and visitors are impressed.
Bonnie Simon, manufacturing manager at the headquarters plant, said she has noticed less personal eye fatigue by the end of her work day.
Mack opted for fluorescent lighting, which offers improved color rendition, consistent distribution and a 15 to 35 percent decrease in lumen depreciation or variability.
The new fixtures run cooler. As a result, in calculating the benefits, the Mack finance department factored in extra cost for heating in winter and less [cooling] cost in the summer, Somple said.
Occupancy sensors are assumed to be in the off mode during 40 percent of their hours of operation.
Initial discussions about the project began in May 2007. Actual installations occurred in November and December.
Including other Mack operations in South Carolina, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Florida and Mexico, the privately held custom plastics molder and contract manufacturer employs 1,950 and had sales of $291 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2007.
The Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board created the Efficiency Vermont program in 2000 and recognized that small municipalities and large utilities provide power in various parts of the state. The program's purpose is to spur energy efficiency across the state, said Michael Socks, senior project engineer with Efficiency Vermont.
For the three years ended Dec. 31, Efficiency Vermont completed nearly 50 energy-efficiency projects with Mack and 15 other unidentified companies with a plastics-industry connection, said Maria Noel Varela, marketing project manager.
Varela said the plastics industry projects involved lighting and occupancy sensors, compressed-air systems, all-electric injection molding machines, motors, transformers and heat-recovery ventilators, and resulted in combined energy savings of more than 5.6 million kwh and annual energy cost savings of more than $370,000.
Socks said Efficiency Vermont continues to promote the use of all-electric presses and, via an independent third party, conducts pre- and post-installation reviews to quantify energy costs with these injection molding machines.
The Mack Molding project ranks as one of the 10 largest energy-saving efforts completed by a Vermont company in partnership with Efficiency Vermont.
Investor-owned utility Central Vermont Public Service Corp. supplies power to the Mack plants in the state.
On March 24, Mack's energy-efficient lighting project was named a winner of Managing Automation Media's 2009 Progressive Manufacturing 100 Awards. Mack will be honored at a ceremony in June.