Canada Flag United States Flag
Speak to an Expert Careers

Modeling uncovers over 50 percent in energy savings for Tri-Mach Group’s new Elmira plant

Heads Up CIPEC Newsletter [May 1, 2012]

Problem solved: the egg does come first – at least that’s the case for a food processing equipment manufacturer that’s about to break ground on a new facility in Elmira, Ontario.

Tri-Mach Group Inc., a manufacturer specializing in equipment for the food and beverage sector, is anxious to leave its cramped, out-of-date building in Kitchener, Ontario behind and move into a modern energy-efficient facility that will comfortably accommodate its 60 employees.

Gretchen Robertson, Controller at Tri-Mach and project team leader, is excited about the prospect of moving into a new facility.

“We’ve transformed from primarily a machining shop to a fabrication shop and the current facility can’t accommodate the growth and changes to our business,” she says. “Until now, our business had to fit within an existing facility. Now, we’ll have a new facility that will accommodate our business.”

Robertson and the rest of the Tri-Mach team also see the move as an opportunity. Along with improving the work environment, Tri-Mach wants to minimize operating costs and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions footprint by making the building more energy efficient.

With help from Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, Tri-Mach turned to a team of energy efficiency experts from Enermodal Engineering, Enviro-Stewards and LCG Energy Management Group for advice. Specifically, the team was tasked with reviewing the new facility’s design in order to identify energy efficiency opportunities that could be incorporated into the plans prior to construction.

The newly-formed team kicked off the project by installing energy monitoring equipment at the existing facility to assess energy use. They also collaborated with Tri-Mach’s facility development team to review the requirements and specifications of the proposed premises, then modeled various energy-saving opportunities and developed a set of recommendations to maximize both energy performance and return on investment.

“There are great opportunities to be had in industrial facilities with high ventilation rates,” says Antoni Paleshi, a senior analyst with Enermodal. “Feasibility studies like this one allow the owner to see energy efficiency as something that can offer financial benefits.”

After modeling the proposed building using eQUEST (Quick Energy Simulation Tool), and comparing it to the energy used at the existing building, the team determined that in its current configuration, the new facility would be more energy-intensive.

“The increase in energy use can be explained by the installation of significantly better lighting, and heating, cooling and ventilation equipment. Tri-Mach wanted more fresh air and better climate control to keep employees comfortable and to produce a better product,” says Paleshi.

To improve the Elmira plant’s energy performance, the team focused on ventilation, lighting and welding process control. For the biggest savings, they recommended a dedicated outdoor air make-up system with radiant heating, an energy recovery wheel and demand control to replace specific rooftop systems in the shop area.

Occupancy and dimming controls were recommended to reduce lighting power throughout the facility and long-lasting LED lighting was proposed for exterior fixtures. Lastly, automatic shut-off of welding stations and employee engagement in welding energy savings were recommended to reduce process energy use.

The final recommendations package could result in a simple payback period of 2.6 years, with an over 70 percent return on investment and a net present value of approximately $235,000. The recommendations would result in an estimated energy intensity of 166 kilowatt hours per square metre (kWh/m2), which is more than a 60 percent reduction when compared to the original design.

“The entire process of assessing the potential for energy savings was a real eye-opener and very educational,” says Robertson. “The team was very professional and I learned a lot about the various opportunities.”