Cable Management company saves energy through innovative lighting solution
Improving energy efficiency has emerged as an effective way to reduce costs during the economic downturn. Nicola Martin reports on the energy-saving efforts of a County Antrim cable management company.
Energy has always been a big outlay at industrial sites and as carbon reduction legislation tightens many companies are making a concerted effort to cut their energy use. Since shaving even a few percentage points off annual fuel and electricity bills can mean a saving of thousands of pounds, energy-saving has emerged as a popular cost-cutting strategy during leaner times. As sustainability becomes an inescapable buzzword, the associated carbon savings are also a welcome bonus to energy-saving schemes.
However, for plant managers with wide-ranging responsibilities, carrying out an energy audit can seem like a ‘nice to have’ option, but one that gets pushed down the years list of activities when other, more important things come up. For this reason, a number of plants are turning to outside help, tapping into the free government advice that is available.
For companies in Northern Ireland, the Carbon Trust provides free ‘Carbon Surveys’ involving assessment of a site’s energy use, with a report suggesting energy-saving measures, complete with cost savings available. A similar scheme is in place for SMEs in Éire: Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) provides telephone consultations and site assessment on reducing energy demand.
At its headquarters in Lisburn, County Antrim, cable management company, Unitrunk Ltd was looking to reduce its spend on energy and chose to contact the Carbon Trust for help. Unitrunk provides site survey, design, manufacture and world-wide distribution of cable tray and trunking solutions, from a large manufacturing site in Lisburn. The Carbon Trust sent out a consultant to conduct a free survey of Unitrunk’s site, compiling a report on its energy use.
“The report identified a number of areas where we could make energy savings,” commented Noel McKeegan, Process Manager at the Lisburn plant. “It was all explained in simple-to-understand terms. It included fully costed-out information about the energy-saving measures, so that we could determine which would be most cost-effective.”
Mr McKeegan continued, “Rather than undertaking an extensive energy-saving plan that involved costly capital investment with a long payback period, our approach to cutting energy use at Unitrunk was to implement a number of small, cost-effective measures with short payback periods. In this way, installation of such measures could be staggered, as funds became available.”
Unitrunk decided that the first energy-saving step it wanted to take was installation of energy-efficient lighting in its plant. While the energy used in lighting is often overlooked, with focus on heating and cooling as the big energy drains, in fact, lighting is a significant energy user, particularly if a large utility is filled with fluorescent lighting. Approximately 19% of global electricity generation is taken for lighting, and the biggest consumer is the fluorescent tube. The Carbon Trust consultant recommended using a retrofit e-ballast from Energys Ltd, ‘Save It Easy®’, to install 200 energy-efficient lamps.
“Our biggest concern was downtime, since it was simply not an option to close the plant while the lighting installation was made,” said Mr McKeegan. “However, since the Save It Easy® units allow the modern T5 linear fluorescent lamps to be used with the existing Switchstart light fittings, it meant that the job was very simple and could be done within working hours at the plant. We where advised that a contractor was not required to undertake the change – It was literally as simple as changing a lightbulb!”
The energy-efficient lamps have been in place for six months at Unitrunk, and Mr McKeegan reports that performance has been good. Both in terms of reliability and light quality, the new lighting is excellent. What’s more, the higher efficiency of the low-energy lamps, plus the more efficient control gear or ‘ballast’ in the Save It Easy® units, typically adds up to combined energy savings of between 37% and 65%, according to size of lamp being used. As a result of actual cost savings on electricity bills, Unitrunk expects its new lighting installation to achieve payback in just two years.
By taking advantage of government help, companies like Unitrunk are taking steps towards ‘greening’ their operations, through simple but significant measures like energy efficient lighting installations. In doing so, they’re cutting costs and reducing their carbon footprint.
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