From an entrepreneurial point of view, cutting costs always makes sense. For Gregory Super, Head of Engineering of ECKART America Corporation, it was clear from the very outset that such an austerity program was perfectly in line with ALTANA’s environmental goals. His recipe for success was to implement more efficient technology because it uses less energy. By 2012, CO2 emissions were to be reduced by 5 percent annually compared to 2007; by 2020 they were to be reduced by as much as 20 percent.
While more efficient technology requires investments, thanks to the savings, he calculated, these costs would be amortized in just a few years. And that is exactly what has happened.
At its site in Painesville, Ohio, the company invested around 400,000 U.S. dollars in environmentally friendly technology. As a result, it will save more than 120,000 U.S. dollars a year in energy costs and reduce CO2 emissions by 15 percent. At the site in Louisville, Kentucky, investments totaled 270,000 U.S. dollars. Annual savings amounted to more than 200,000 U.S. dollars and annual CO2 reductions to 7 percent. With these results, ECKART America far exceeded the targets it had set itself.
What exactly does more efficient technology mean? “We thoroughly analyzed our production equipment and our overall energy consumption,” says Super. “Subsequently, we introduced a wide range of measures.” Among other things, the company invested in better ventilation, light, and control systems for individual buildings, renewed motors and fans, and upgraded pumps. Some measures will bring costs savings of a few hundred U.S. dollars, while others will save more than 40,000 U.S. dollars, with positive effects on the environment to boot.
The strongest benefits were provided by repairs to compressed air systems used at both sites to distribute pulverized metals for further processing. “We suspected there were tiny leaks in the systems which squandered energy,” explains Super. “But to prove this, a specialist had to be called in.” The expert inspected the systems with an ultrasound device, found that leaks indeed existed, and repaired them.
“In the future, we will have the systems maintained on a regular basis,” says Super. And it is well worth it. Sealing air compressor systems has reduced the energy consumption at the two sites by a total of 700,000 kWh a year, meaning 400,000 kg lower CO2 emissions compared to 2007.
This is a resounding success and simultaneously provided motivation for new measures. In 2014, Super intends to improve the energy efficiency of the atomizer in Painesville, and in 2015 to install a new melting furnace in Louisville. In addition, he has set himself a new target: By 2020, he seeks to reduce CO2 emissions not by 20 percent, but by 25 percent, visà-vis 2007.