Orion Energy Systems: Orion system improvers lighting, cuts costs dramatically for Nashville Wire Products

For further Information contact:

Dave Cary, Communication Specialist
Orion Energy Systems
[email protected]

Daron Whitehead, Design Engineer
Nashville Wire Products Inc.
295 Driftwood Street
Nashville, TN 37210
888.743.2575 (Toll Free)
615.743.2480 (Main)

A dramatic improvement in workplace quality, a substantial environmental benefit — in a move that cut lighting costs by more than 50% and saves about $40,000 per year.

Sound too good to be true? That has been the result of Nashville Wire Products’ decision to change the lighting to a system from Orion Energy Services of Plymouth at its Driftwood facility in Nashville, the oldest of seven NWP facilities.

“A lot of people were skeptical, I think,” commented Daron Whitehead, NWP design engineer, who also heads the company’s internal-looking engineering technology team. “When I told everybody the plan was to save money by changing out our light fixtures, people kind of said ‘you’re going to do what, now?’ But when I explained to them that we would be cutting our wattage in half, it started to make sense to them, especially after I showed them the numbers.”

The numbers had been supplied by Ken Avery, president of Energy Solutions Inc.– a Nashville energy consultant firm — who was not content to merely replace fixtures one-for-one, but conducted a professional study of the facility. “Almost every plant layout changes over time, with the lighting taking on more and more of an improvised character,” Avery said. “For that reason, there’s usually substantial benefit from a thorough review of the existing lighting layout.”

“Ken gave me his estimate of what we could save and what we could accomplish,” Whitehead said. “Being an engineer, I kind of like to crunch the numbers myself. When I went through the numbers, the savings were there — it’s a fairly linear, straightforward calculation — and the savings were real.” After the retrofit was complete Whitehead and Avery verified power reduction estimates with electric meter readings.

The change — which substantially increased light levels throughout the Driftwood plant –resulted in a lighting power reduction from 1,134,939 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year to a projected 549,403 — a 52% drop of 563,000 kWh, worth $40,000 per year.

For independent verification of the meter readings, Nashville Wire Products utilized a service called “Power Tracker,” provided by the Nashville Electric Company. This service indicated a usage drop of 80 KW as soon as the project was complete.

These figures give the project a cash return on investment (ROI) of 57.1% and 21-month payback. All told, Nashville Wire replaced 374 metal halide (MH) and outmoded fluorescent task lights with 326 T8 fluorescent fixtures. Numerous task lights were eliminated.

On completion, Nashville Wire Products management — who had taken an active interest and role in the project — reviewed the results and asked Energy Solutions to begin similar projects in all of NWP’s other six facilities.

Whitehead commented, “Because the plants are all different and this is the biggest, the savings won’t be as much. But we estimate it will be about $25,000 per plant — and it all goes straight to the bottom line.”

“Our energy technology engineering team was challenged to find a way to reduce costs and this has been a real good project for us.”

* * *

The numbers, however, were only part of the story.

“The Driftwood facility had a ballast roof and metal halide lights,” Whitehead said. “A ballast roof tends to leak if you start cutting holes in it, so we didn’t have any skylights and few windows so there’s no sunlight from anywhere. Plus, the metal halide lights we had lose their brightness over time.”

“At one particular work location, we measured six to eight foot-candles (FC) — which is pretty much like working in the dark. Our people had been working in these conditions for quite some time.”

Avery said that from owners on down, NWP personnel found it hard to believe the increase in light levels that now reach their work areas and had been surprised they had not realized how poorly lit their facility had become over time. “No one wanted it that way,” Avery said. “It just crept in over time and it was kind of like that old saying that you didn’t know how heavy the luggage was until you stopped carrying it.”

Through most of the facility, Avery’s light meter readings confirmed observed visual impressions that pre-retrofit light levels at work elevations were ‘low and dull’ to ‘dim at best.’ Except in two inspection lines, measured foot-candle (FC) readings ranged from lows of 5FC and 8FC to highs of 19FC and 45FC. Overall average was 18 FC. After the project was completed, these readings rose to 25FC, 45FC, 49FC and 80FC respectively, and the overall average jumped into the low 40s.

“We had a guy at one workstation that was working at 6-8 FC,” Whitehead said. “He’s now working at 65, which is important to him because he can see to operate his machine. It’s been that way all through the plant.”

“In our wire cutting department, the HID lighting was so bad we had had to drop down eight-foot strip lights to get light closer to the wire cutting machines. They have to cut wire in very specific lengths and there’s a lot of measuring involved. They had put about thirty fixtures in, and each machine had several of these strip lights over it.”

“With the new lights we’ve been able to take all those down — and that is an additional savings beyond the new normal.”

The only areas that had had substantially higher light readings before the retrofit were two critical inspection lines, where existing levels were 69FC and 85FC. The project boosted these to 110FC and 115FC respectively.

“Our inspection people can see much better,” Whitehead said.

“I was curious what the people out on the floor were going to say,” Whitehead continued. Several asked if the company intended to provide sunglasses — and none had complained, he said. “And we have one lady, who’s been here 31 years, driving a towmotor in that once-dark end of the building. She thanks me every time she comes around the corner.”

“It’s made such a big difference in the morale — not that we had any problems to begin with. It just seems fresher and I think people function better in a well-lighted area.”

“One thing I especially like about the new fixtures,” Whitehead said, “is that they are hung by jack chains and have plugs. So if we ever need to move or change a fixture it’s not permanently tied in. We can just unplug it and move it where we need it.”

* * *

Aside from the work-related and financial benefits for NWP, the power reduction also provides a significant environmental benefit for the local environment. The 563,000 kWh saving will mean, according to Federal EPA formulas, that some 434 tons of carbon dioxide and 118 tons of carbon — products of power plant generation — will not be released into the atmosphere each year. It is also, according to EPA and the equivalent of a 107-acre forest, removing 83 cars from the road and saving 53,231 gallons of gasoline per year.

The savings and environmental benefits are possible because Orion Illuminator™ fixtures have been engineered to use a specially formed, highly reflective surface to ‘harvest’ light emitted from all sides of a fluorescent tube and direct it downward to where it is usable. As a result, The Illuminator™ provides more light from far less energy than standard fixtures.

The Illuminator ™ is typically used with T8 full-spectrum fluorescent tubes and electronic ballasts. As a result, Orion systems turn on instantly, operate at a cool 130 degrees F, provide a much more natural type of light than older fluorescent types, and a much longer life and lamp cost than HIDs.

“Expecting even a change for the better to cost more is the way things usually go,” commented Orion president Neal Verfuerth.. “Most of us would think that way.”

“Here, however, Nashville Wire Products not only saved substantially on their power costs and got the better lighting they were looking for but provided a significant environmental benefit as well. They also took a significant amount of power off the grid. That tends to keep electric rates stable — and that’s an issue we’re all facing.”

“That’s is the way we like to see things work.”

Nashville Wire Products, Inc., Nashville TN, is a world-class supplier of wire products that specializes in the design and fabrication of welded wire products. Since its inception in 1934, Nashville Wire has grown into a diverse organization that serves multiple markets and thousands of customers worldwide, including such well-known names as Whirlpool, Electrolux, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Charbroil and Fiesta Grills. Primary products include OEM parts, wire mesh, retail displays, store fixtures, and wire products for the material handling industry. Cutting edge technology, quality products, and unparalleled service have earned Nashville Wire a leadership position in all of the markets it serves. Visit the company website at http://www.nashvillewire.com./

Energy Solutions Inc., owned by Ken Avery, designs and implements energy saving programs for hospitals, retail stores, warehouses and manufacturing facilities. Based in Nashville, TN (615-662-0027) Energy Solutions Inc.’s programs are implemented throughout the country. “How often can management cut their costs and hear their employees thanking them?” Avery asked. “Improving the lighting in the work place is a wonderful project. Clients will achieve substantial financial returns not just from energy savings, but because very few cost cutting programs make workers feel better and safer.

Orion Energy Services Inc. Located in Plymouth, WI, Orion has been innovating in the energy and lighting business since 1996. Orion’s innovative Illuminator™ fixture, an energy-efficient lighting platform for industrial applications, has been awarded a series of 14 patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Additionally, Orion has applied for numerous other patents related to metering and control technologies for lighting.

Neal Verfuerth, Orion President, received one of Wisconsin’s most prestigious awards, the Ernst & Young 2004 Manufacturing Entrepreneur of the Year. Orion provides capacity displacement solutions for supply side management, transmission management, and demand side management for the electricity industry. Visit the Orion website at http://www.oriones.com/.