Thriving under pressure: Husky Injection Molding Systems
by DeWayne Howell, Engineering, Maintenance and Facilities Manager at Husky Injection Molding Systems
At Husky Injection Molding Systems, we have long made it a priority to use energy in the most responsible, and effective, possible way – and with every step we take to improve the efficiency of our Milton plant we uncover the potential for more projects and even greater savings. Over the last 13 years, we have completed dozens of projects with Efficiency Vermont to upgrade or improve our facility – and the savings have been impressive.
But if you asked me the biggest lesson I’ve learned through this process, I’d tell you that it’s not always about what lighting or equipment are used. It’s about HOW they are used.
How we cut our energy use by 38%
Working closely with Efficiency Vermont over the last decade, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of the processes and equipment in our entire facility. In many cases, we have invested in new equipment, lighting and the other kinds of capital upgrades that are viewed as typical energy efficiency projects. But those projects alone are not what have enabled us to cut our energy usage by 38%. We have also seen big results from analyzing and altering the way we operate – with little changes yielding large savings.
Pressure, pumps, and process: generating big energy savings
Let me share an example of what process efficiency looks like at Husky’s factory in Milton.
Our work, which involves the production of injection molds for the plastics industry, requires an extensive milling and metalwork process. This means that we need ready access to metal working fluids throughout our entire plant. The sophisticated system of pipes and pumps we use is designed to ensure this access – but, until recently, we did not realize that it was wasting a lot of energy.
With the help of an Efficiency Vermont engineer, we devised a way to test the entire system. First, we installed energy sub meters throughout the facility to take precise measurements of energy usage over several weeks. Efficiency Vermont’s analysis of this data showed that we were likely generating a lot more cutting metal working fluid pressure than we needed to – even during times of peak production.
To test this theory, we systematically lowered the pressure on every single pump by plugging up relief valves over the course of several days. Next we lowered the pressure throughout the facility and confirmed that the system could still operate normally – more than meeting our manufacturing needs, while using a lot less energy. This small change, which required no capital investment, is already saving us $10,000 per month, and we saw an immediate drop in our electric bills.
Bringing energy efficiency into the twenty-first century
We won’t be stopping there: With every project we learn more about exactly how our facility operates, and we find more potential for improvement. As we look toward the future, I am confident we will continue to drive our energy cost per unit of production even lower – and our savings even higher.