Dailey Precast cuts energy costs by $66,000 each year
Dailey Precast is a Shaftsbury company that makes massive slabs of concrete for construction projects across the Northeast. Understandably, the company’s top priority is safety. But a close second is improving operations and reducing costs, which have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the company’s operations manager, Rick Engelhardt views energy efficiency as a sound strategy for cutting costs. And it’s paid off: With support from Efficiency Vermont, the company has saved more than $66,000 in annual energy costs. In 2023, Dailey Precast was one of five organizations honored for energy leadership at Efficiency Vermon't 12th annual Best Practices Exchange. More energy-saving projects are in the pipeline for 2024.
Dailey Precast turns crushed rock into custom-designed concrete molds (think beams or wall panels) for building and parking structures. The molds are durable and versatile but resource-intensive to produce. Each project involves significant time, labor, specialized equipment, and energy.
One simple way for the company to reduce energy costs was to replace fluorescent lighting with LEDs. In 2021, Rick worked with Efficiency Vermont to determine which fixtures to purchase and how much the upgrade would save in energy costs. The project paid for itself in 10 months. “It was a no-brainer,” Rick said.
In addition to the energy savings, the new lights improve visibility on the factory floor, which keeps employees safer. The LEDs also cut down on maintenance costs and staff time to replace burnt bulbs.
With the lighting swap complete, Rick was ready to tackle a larger project with Efficiency Vermont: the company’s compressed air usage
Dailey Precast uses compressed air to help mix, pour, mold, and cure crushed rock into precast concrete. Pressurizing the air requires a lot of energy, and Rick suspected that the company’s existing compressor was oversized.
“We were knowledgeable enough to know that our compressor was somewhat oversized for the current operation, but we didn't know how to quantify that value,” he said.
Efficiency Vermont introduced Rick to Air Compressor Engineering Co., a vendor that specializes in identifying air leaks and other compressed air savings opportunities. After the leaks were fixed, Efficiency Vermont monitored the system’s energy use and compressed air flow rate over time. The findings confirmed that Dailey Precast could swap out its compressed air system for a new one less than half the size.
“It really all comes back to getting the data and then making your decisions based on it,” Rick said.
With the help of Efficiency Vermont’s financial incentives, the new compressor system paid for itself in just nine months. It saves the company more than $35,000 in energy costs each year.
Cement is one of the most used materials on earth. But its production generates significant carbon dioxide emissions: between one and two percent of overall emissions in the U.S., according to the Department of Energy.
Energy efficiency is an important strategy for reducing industrial emissions, but projects can be complicated and time-consuming. Staff are often stretched thin and don’t have time to monitor data and research vendors. Rick said that without a resource like Efficiency Vermont, he might not have been able to take on the compressed air project so quickly.
“Efficiency Vermont is the glue that connects it all together. If I had to do that all alone, this project might not have happened.”
Fortunately, he didn’t have to. Rick has the expertise to help the company’s parent corporation, Peckham Industries, assist other subsidiaries in saving energy across the company’s 12 locations.
And when Rick has another energy-saving idea? He just picks up the phone.