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Business: Industrial

CIPEC Annual Report 2010

CIPEC Leadership Awards for Integrated Energy Efficiency Strategy

Alberta Newsprint Company

Establishing an integrated energy efficiency strategy to reduce electricity consumption

Alberta Newsprint Company, a leading manufacturer of premium newsprint, runs a mill 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year-round. Meanwhile, the company’s energy conservation team is just as busy focusing on energizing the bottom line with energy efficiency.

Alberta Newsprint Company
Fast facts

(Whitecourt, Alberta)

Winning edge: Establishing an integrated energy efficiency strategy to reduce electricity consumption

  • Alberta Newsprint Company is a leading manufacturer of premium newsprint.
  • Since 2008, 35 energy efficiency projects have been implemented.
  • Combined annual savings from all these projects are $2.2 million, for a simple payback of two months.
  • From 2000 to 2009, Alberta Newsprint cut annual natural gas use in half – saving 500,000 gigajoules annually.

“We have an integrated energy efficiency strategy that is proactive. Our energy conservation team looks for solutions instead of waiting to be blindsided by problems,” says Grant Belke, a Control Room Operator and Chairman of Alberta Newsprint’s energy conservation team.

Alberta Newsprint Company, a CIPEC Leader in the pulp and paper sector, understands that integrated energy efficiency includes everything from regular cleaning and maintenance to adopting innovative technologies. The energy team includes the mill’s general manager. Part of a company of about 200 employees, the 10-member energy team is able to maintain a high profile and keep the company’s strategic focus on energy efficiency.

The company, located in Whitecourt, Alberta, about 175 km northwest of Edmonton, also integrates all employees into the energy efficiency culture. Leadership and ideas come from beyond the energy team. “A lot of our big ideas come from the mill floor. One of our machine operators has come up with two years’ worth of energy efficiency projects,” says Surendra Singh, the company’s Energy Manager. Employees are motivated by prizes, draws and other benefits, but Grant says fundamentally everyone understands that energy efficiency “is saving money and keeping people working.”

The energy team’s initial focus is on reducing electricity consumption because it represents 40-45 percent of the cost of manufacturing. Reduction targets are clearly defined and published mill wide. Presentations are made to each department to ensure buy-in throughout the mill. Time lines and energy team responsibilities are included to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them. Each project has a champion to keep it on track and secure necessary approvals.

Since 2008, 35 projects have been implemented. Most projects fall into one of two categories: modifying conventional manufacturing processes and reconfiguring centrifugal machines.

Modifying conventional manufacturing involved evaluating major energy-consuming units and their role in the overall process. Technology upgrades since the 1980s had rendered many units redundant, yet they were still using energy. Some energy-intensive pulp cleaners, a secondary pulp screen and a major tank were removed. The pulp mixing and agitation process was optimized.

Overall, compared with 2008, plant operations are using about 5,300 fewer horsepower and saving 100,000 gigajoules per year. The combined annual savings from all these projects is $2.2 million. The capital and other costs to implement these projects was $250,000 – producing a simple payback of under two months. From 2000 to 2009, Alberta Newsprint Company cut annual natural gas use in half – saving 500,000 gigajoules annually.

“Reducing the cost of manufacturing without large capital investments is critical, given the challenging economic situation the pulp and paper industry faces,” Singh says.

The project costs were low because Alberta Newsprint Company adopted an integrated energy efficiency strategy that focused on taking full advantage of existing resources. “A good example of our integrated approach was to run pumps and blowers on demand instead of continuously. We already had most of the instruments needed for controls, and we did the automation in-house,” Singh says.

Achievements like these from Alberta Newsprint Company are earning recognition not just from CIPEC’s Leadership awards. Pulp and Paper Canada magazine – the premier publication for the Canadian pulp and paper industry – has accepted technical papers from Alberta Newsprint Company. These peer-reviewed papers reflect some of the more innovative ideas at the company. In the spring of 2010, an article outlined how natural gas costs were cut in half at the mill over the last decade.

The ultimate goal shared by Singh, Belke and their colleagues is to leave a profitable legacy for their co-workers and management. “We want to save even more energy and make more paper. To get there, we will have people in this company taking it for granted that you constantly assess energy efficiency at the production level,” Belke says.

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Broan-NuTone Canada

Reducing process energy consumption with a cross-functional team

The difficult will be done immediately. The impossible will take a while. These sentiments sum up the attitude of the cross-functional energy team in Broan-NuTone’s Mississauga plant. This can-do attitude and an integrated energy reduction strategy drove Broan-NuTone’s plant in Mississauga to the top of the energy efficiency rankings among the company’s 11 plants around the globe.

Broan-NuTone Canada
Fast facts

(Mississauga, Ontario)

Winning edge: Reducing process energy consumption with a cross-functional team

  • Broan-NuTone is North America’s largest producer of residential ventilation products.
  • Integrated energy efficiency strategy uses a seven-step process.
  • The plant’s $600,000 utilities bill were cut by 37.5 percent.
  • Electricity consumption was cut by 31 percent.
  • Natural gas consumption was cut by 33 percent.

“If you never stop doing what’s difficult, you may eventually achieve what was once thought impossible. We wouldn’t have guessed that our results would have been strong enough to take us this far,” says John Martinovic, Director of Engineering and Quality and a member of the cross-functional energy team at Broan-Nutone, North America’s largest producer of residential ventilation products. The Mississauga plant is a CIPEC Leader in the general manufacturing sector.

The cross-functional energy team draws members from key departments, which virtually guarantees an integrated approach to energy efficiency. The team’s advice enables executive management to prioritize and implement the most cost-effective energy efficiency projects – to move from the difficult to the impossible.

A telling example of moving from the difficult to the impossible was the team’s recommendation to redesign the paint process to reduce air pressure. Once this was accomplished, the team was able to eliminate two of the plant’s three compressors and cut air-compressor horsepower by 56 percent. Had the project started with the seemingly impossible premise of cutting two compressors, it might never have been started.

Overall, the team reduced the plant’s $600,000 utilities bill by 37.5 percent. This equals an annual savings of about $225,000 when comparing 2009 to a 2006 base year. “It’s like a cheque that writes itself every year,” Martinovic says. To realize these savings, the team cut electricity consumption by 31 percent, natural gas by 33 percent and water by 85 percent. The reductions in natural gas and electricity consumption are equal to 4,500 gigajoules per year.

At the heart of Broan-NuTone’s integrated energy efficiency strategy is a seven-step process:

  1. Understand where and how energy is used
  2. Understand when energy is used
  3. Monitor and track energy use
  4. Analyze data analysis
  5. Identify, quantify and prioritize opportunities by justifying costs
  6. Reduce consumption through implemented projects
  7. Repeat

The energy team also enlisted expertise from outside the company. In 2007, a Dollars to $ense Energy Management Workshop introduced the energy team to CIPEC. “Now I wouldn’t hesitate to call people at CIPEC if I needed help,” Martinovic says. In the spring of 2010, after an introduction from CIPEC, Broan-NuTone began exploring ways to become involved with Partners in Project Green – a growing community of businesses working together to green their bottom line by creating an internationally recognized eco-business zone around Toronto Pearson International Airport.

Broan-NuTone also worked with an energy solutions consultant through Enbridge Gas. He helped the company develop integrated solutions and implement metering to monitor the final benefit of each project. Four major natural gas projects were completed.

Reusing water between wash tanks

Broan-NuTone was using fresh city water to replenish washtanks. This meant heated water had to be reheated. Now water is cascaded from rinse tanks to significantly reduce the amount of fresh make-up water fed into the chemical tanks. This saves energy because the rinse water is maintained at 21°C versus city water at 15°C.

“A week after we made the switch to the new system, a Peel Water and Wastewater technician arrived. The utility thought our meter was broken,” Martinovic says.

Reducing wash temperature

The energy team worked with chemical suppliers to specify the correct low temperature chemical for the wash process. The goal was to reduce the operating temperature from 60°C to 43°C. The energy team actually reduced the operating temperature to 21°C by immersing parts from a spot-welding process. Integrating this waste heat meant new chemicals that can clean at lower temperatures could be used.

Reducing dry-off oven temperature

The existing dryer for parts exiting the washer was an expensive compressed air system. It was replaced with a recirculating air blow-off assembly, which dries the products more effectively and significantly reduces gas consumption.

Recovering heat from compressors and chillers

The team modified venting from the compressor room and chiller equipment to allow outside venting of warm air in the summer and inside venting to the plant in cold weather – saving almost 13,000 m3 of natural gas per year.

Despite their impressive results so far, the energy team expects to deliver even more energy efficiency gains in the future. Another 20-25 percent in energy savings is on the agenda by 2012. “Coming soon – expect the impossible,” Martinovic says.

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