Exposing Hidden Utility Costs = Big Savings!

 
 

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How Exposing Hidden Utility Costs at One Central Illinois Manufacturer Will Save Them Tens of Thousands Annually! 

Agri-Fab in Sullivan, IL manufactures a wide variety of lawn and garden products for customers such as John Deere, Husqvarna, and for their own Agri-Fab brand.  The company’s products, which include lawn sweepers and “almost anything you can pull behind a garden tractor”, are sold at many home and garden stores, including Lowe’s, Tractor Supply, Menard’s and Rural King.

Agri-Fab, like many companies, was spending a lot of money on utility costs and couldn’t pin point usage to any one machine or piece of equipment.   When Versatech, LLC’s Greg Gillespie approached the company to do a pilot program in early 2015, and company leaders saw the results of a Versatech-led energy assessment at the company, Agri-Fab was ready to try out Versatech’s Mitsubishi monitoring system.  This monitoring system connects to any type of machine and then feeds energy usage information from the machine to a computer software program on a real time basis. 

Greg led the Versatech team in installing meters and sensors on three air compressors, two paint curing ovens, a dry off oven, and two electric mains in February of 2015.  The installation involved networking the metering and sensor equipment to a webserver connected to the company’s network. Versatech supplied the software hosted by the webserver and trained the company on its use to facilitate real time data and reporting options. 

In May 2015, the company noticed some anomalies in natural gas usage on their paint ovens when reviewing historical data.  It was discovered the ovens were running during off shifts and temporarily on the weekends.  Production schedules were not consistent with this usage pattern.   Upon further investigation, the beginning of these irregularities were consistent with the time of an upgrade to the ovens’ control systems.    When the upgrade was installed, various control sequences were in error; hence, causing the excessive use of natural gas and electricity during non-production time frames. Once the issue was recognized, appropriate measures were taken and the sequencing errors were fixed.   This resulted in an avoided annual electrical cost of $10,169 and annual natural gas cost of $57,287 to Agri-Fab due to implementing the proper sequencing throughout their paint lines.

During the same data review, Agri-Fab noticed air compressor usage during hours when production was not being run.  Agri-Fab addressed this issue by shutting off a valve feeding compressed air to their fabrication area of the plant.   Once this issue was addressed, the compressor delivered 35% less air, crediting the remaining air usage due to leaks throughout the plant.  When air compressor leaks are present, equipment has to run harder to make up for the leaks.   When leaks are addressed, electrical usage drops.  Fixing the leaking air compressors is expected to result in $50,870 of electrical cost avoidance annually. 

Combining the cost avoidance resulting from recognizing and addressing electrical and gas waste results in a total annual avoided electrical and gas cost of $118,326!  And, Agri-Fab has just started the process of monitoring data and addressing spikes and other anomalies, so additional avoided costs are expected.

Many times, companies assume that high utility expenditures are a cost of doing business and that not much can be done to reduce these charges.  However, the above case study proves this untrue.  Once your company has the information to implement energy savings measures and utilizes monitoring equipment to collect real time energy usage data, you have the information to identify sources of wasted energy and address them, just as Agri-Fab did. 

Agri-Fab combined the use of monitoring equipment with a regular review of the data by a team of facility engineers and technicians.  Once issues are identified, the team root causes the problems leading to excess energy usage, and implements timely corrective actions to rectify the issues.

Versatech, LLC is ready to help your company realize similar benefits!  Versatech’s Energy Management Services Program Manager, Greg Gillespie, offers energy assessments to identify energy conservation measures and can help your company develop and manage Energy Management Strategic Plans to ensure consistent data review.   The plan will also include timely root causing and corrective action development to realize benefits quickly. Contact Greg today to find out how your utility budget could be reduced dramatically by using Versatech’s Energy Management services and tools! 

Greg Gillespie
Versatech Program Manager

Energy Management Services
P: 217.342.3500 X245   C: 217-663-0368
greg.gillespie@versatech1.com