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Motivating Manufacturing Energy Efficiency

A 2010 CARD Energy Conservation Market Analysis report authored by Minnesota Technical Assistance Program (MnTAP) identified potential gas and electric savings of about 2,509,532 MCF (8%) and 271,488,000 kWh (7%) respectively in Minnesota’s industrial sector. MnTAP’s ongoing work in this sector has determined that key requirements for addressing these opportunities include raising the awareness about the specific opportunities in individual facilities along with targeted assistance to help those facilities overcome barriers to implementation.

The goal of “Motivating Manufacturing Energy Efficiency,” a CARD grant awarded to MnTAP, is to demonstrate and carry out a program strategy for motivating Minnesota manufacturers to install or put into operation recommended energy efficiency opportunities. These opportunities are identified through onsite energy assessments, lean manufacturing activities and strategies, and the launch of the implementation process through directed assistance from MnTAP interns. The focus of the program is on developing methods and approaches that can be transferred to Minnesota utility CIPs.
The project is on a three-year cycle, working with two manufacturing facilities in each year. During 2013, MnTAP worked with Schwing America and ST Specialty Foods, the results of which are reported here. 

Fig 1 - Schwing Paul Senne 

Figure 1: MnTAP Intern Paul Senne at Schwing America (photo courtesy of MnTAP)

Located in White Bear Lake, Schwing America is one of seven production facilities in the global Schwing Group and produces concrete pumps, truck mixers, batch plants, reclaimers, and parts for distribution throughout the world. The objective of this project was to help facilitate a lean manufacturing approach to the production process leading to energy, water and materials use reduction. Schwing’s motivation stemmed from a desire to re-examine and optimize their layout and procedures in light of a growing and changing business. Schwing engaged Enterprise Minnesota to provide training to employees in GreenLean® methodology, enabling everyone from the executive sponsor to the assembly workers to work together to identify, communicate, and quantify opportunities for improvement. Working on site to facilitate identification and implementation of these measures, MnTAP intern Paul Senne (Figure 1):

  • Utilized the “5S” methodology (sort, straighten, shine, standardize and sustain) to optimize assembly work cells;
  • Used root cause analysis to research patterns in material defects and pinpoint appropriate changes;
  • Analyzed energy use in paint booths and identify changes to loading patterns to reduce usage;
  • Conducted a compressed air leak system analysis to detect and repair existing leaks, and to develop a recommended ongoing test method;
  • Used a spaghetti diagram of forklift travel to determine inefficiencies, and recommended staging area system to reduce fuel consumption and equipment wear and tear.

    Table 1: Estimated savings from the Schwing America Project
Annual Reduction
Annual Savings
Optimize paint booth loading patterns
24,150 kWh/2,530 therms
Under review
Repair compressed air leaks
21,000 kWh
In progress
Reduce forklift travel
390 gallons propane
In progress

MnTap intern Rahul Dhuria
Figure 2: MnTAP intern Rahul Dhuria at ST Speciality Foods (photo courtesey of MnTAP)

ST Specialty Foods in Brooklyn Park produces packaged pasta products, boxed potatoes, prepared dinners, meal cups, noodles and sauce, skillet dinner mixes, and instant rice and rice mixes. Anticipating a 10 -15% increase in sales with a corresponding increase in operating hours, ST Specialty Foods was striving to implement a lean manufacturing program focused on setup time reduction, process control, and the “5S” principles. In order to help management accomplish its goals, the on-site MnTap intern Rahul Dhuria (Figure 2): 
  • Assisted with an exterior lighting upgrade for energy efficiency; 
  • Completed an audit of the compressed air system with an outside contractor to identify and repair leaks; 
  • Recommended the installation of zero loss drain and mist eliminators in compressed air system;
  • Helped identify and implement several lean operation improvements, including standardization of operating procedures, color-coding to improve accuracy and efficiency of production machine set-up, segmentation of materials waste to reduce potential for contamination and facilitate waste management, installation of shadow boards and line maps to allow for easier access to tools and equipment and improve employee efficiency.

Table 2: Estimated savings from the ST Specialty Foods Project

Annual Reduction
Annual Savings
Upgrade exterior lighting
11,000 kWh
Inspect for air leaks and repair
42,500 kWh/~33 CFM
Install zero-leak drain system
18,000 kWh
Lean operation initiatives
14 minutes/line/day
In progress

Xcel Energy participated in the ST Specialty Foods project by providing rebates for the exterior lighting upgrade, the compressed air leak audit, the repair of air leaks, and the installation of the mist eliminators and zero loss drain. MnTAP will continue both to encourage utility participation in the on-site projects to help utilities become more aware of the opportunity and to facilitate implementation of recommended measures.
This CARD project is scheduled for completion in March 2016, after which MnTAP will summarize its experience with all six industrial facilities in a final report, including recommendations for methods and approaches that can be transferred to Minnesota utility CIPs.
Further details on the two 2013 industrial projects can be found at the MnTAP website. Results from the 2014 intern projects on two additional industrial facilities will be presented at the MnTAP Intern Presentation Symposium on August 21, 2014 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. in the Maroon and Gold Room at the University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center. To register for this symposium, visit MnTAP’s August calendar. For more information on this CARD grant, contact project manager Mary Sue Lobenstein.