Original Date: 02/26/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Energy Conservation
General Dynamics Armament Systems has implemented an aggressive Energy Conservation effort which met the company’s goal of a 25% utility cost reduction. Most of this savings came about through the judicious and efficient usage of existing equipment and processes rather than from capital investment in new energy-efficient, high-tech equipment.
Soaring energy costs in the northeastern United States caused General Dynamics Armament Systems (GDAS) to begin a four-year program on utility cost reduction. In 1995, utility costs at the Burlington, Vermont site was $2 million and projected to be even higher in the future. As a result, the company designated its 1995 utility costs as a baseline; began implementing Energy Conservation efforts; and set a utility cost reduction goal of 25%.
GDAS’ first step was to conduct an energy audit of its facility to identify areas of opportunity for savings. Facilities, machinery, and equipment were all monitored to determine electricity, gas, water, and compressed air usage. This monitoring effort identified 50 potential areas for improvement with a rate-of-return on investments of less than two years. As a result, GDAS selected 30 viable projects which would yield significant savings. Along with the monitoring efforts, the company implemented an awareness program for its employees to gain their support and obtain suggestions for conserving energy.
Among the efficiency efforts implemented were: Installing new variable motor drives in the plating ventilation system, which allowed the fan speeds to be reduced during non-working and low demand times.
Decreasing compressed air usage by reducing pressure and leaks, and replacing one large compressor with two smaller units.
Replacing pumps in water wells with higher volume, more efficient units which reduced the need for using city water as a backup.
Modifying the plant lighting system by relamping, reballasting, replacing old fixtures, or installing isolation switches to allow for smaller zone lighting.
Minimizing equipment usage by combining and batching loads whenever possible.
Moving some of the high utility usage operations to the second shift where utility costs are traditionally lower.
Using available well water, in place of city water, for plating tank cooling, air conditioning chillers, toilets, and process water makeup whenever possible.
Turning off equipment when not in use rather than maintaining it in an idle mode.
GDAS has negotiated special utility contracts with the local utility companies by agreeing to interruptible service as well as primary service tied to time-of-day conditions. The company received rebates from the utility suppliers whenever energy efficient equipment was installed. Special deferred/cash flow billing allowed GDAS to pay utility charges quarterly instead of monthly. Since implementing the Energy Conservation effort, the company has succeeded in meeting its goal of a 25% utility cost reduction. Overall capital expenditures were under $250,000 and the returns received are in excess of $0.5 million per year.
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