Community leaders celebrate plant investments at Vermont Castings
Elected officials, community leaders, and project partners gathered at the Vermont Castings Foundry today to celebrate a series of plant upgrades that will save energy, reduce costs, and increase productivity.
Hearth & Home Technologies, LLC (HHT), which bought the Vermont Castings Foundry in late 2014, has invested more than $8 million in capital improvements at the plant, including upgrades to the building’s exterior, new equipment and Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machining, renovations to the administrative offices and lunchroom, air compressor upgrades, efficient lighting, and, most recently, installation of a robotic processing center that will increase production capacity and help reduce the risk of workplace injuries.
“The foundry in Randolph and our enameling operations in Bethel are a key part of HHT’s supply chain, providing high quality cast iron components for stoves and fireplace inserts serving all fuel sources” said Vice President & General Manager Jeffrey Nelb. “HHT’s investment and our members’ dedication to lean continuous improvement reflects our commitment to the long-term viability of this operation, and to the approximately 100 full-time members who work here.”
Energy Efficiency Investments
HHT invested substantially in energy efficiency improvements at the Vermont Castings forge, including a $460,000 upgrade to the compressed air system foundry workers rely on to power the equipment used throughout the manufacturing process. Working with Efficiency Vermont, HHT installed three new air compressor units online and utilized two newer compressors from a sister plant in Kentucky.
The new high efficiency compressor motors, combined with air leak detection and repair, will net an estimated electric bill savings of $61,000, which will pay for the cost of the project after seven and one-half years. In addition to energy savings, the foundry’s maintenance costs will be significantly reduced thanks to the higher quality, low-moisture air the new compressors supply to the tools, minimizing rust and decay. The newer compressors are also more reliable, and the system features engineered redundancy so the plant can continue to operate if one of the compressor motors fails.
HHT has also invested $104,000 to upgrade the forge’s lighting to high efficiency LED fixtures and lighting controls. The new lighting will save HHT an estimated $20,000 in annual electric bills that will pay for in the cost of the project in three and one-half years. The new lighting system will be much brighter and will help improve both workplace productivity and safety.
“The new lights will transform the work environment to such an extent that even without the substantial cost savings, the impact on member morale and well-being justifies the cost,” said Nelb. “The incentives that Efficiency Vermont provided for both projects helped us make these improvements, but equally valuable was the expert advice they provided in helping us select qualified contractors and the right equipment and technology for our needs.”
“HHT’s investment in the Vermont Castings foundry is inspiring – the company has lowered its costs and increased productivity in a way that is sure to make the plant more competitive in the national market, helping to preserve good-paying manufacturing jobs right here in Vermont,” said Efficiency Vermont Director Karen Glitman. “We applaud HHT’s vision and investment, and we are proud to have played a role in supporting them.”
Contractors involved in installing the equipment upgrades included Harmony Electric, Net Zero Designs, SAM Mechanical, Compressor Energy Services, D.L. Thurrott.
About Efficiency Vermont
Efficiency Vermont was created by the Vermont Legislature and is regulated by the Vermont Public Utility Commission to help all Vermonters reduce energy costs, strengthen the economy, and protect Vermont's environment. For more information, contact Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 or visit www.efficiencyvermont.com
Hearth & Home Technologies (HHT) is an operating division of HNI Corporation. HNI is dedicated to delivering long-term value to its shareholders, exceeding customer expectations and being a responsible corporate citizen. Forbes magazine named HNI one of the 400 Best Big Companies in America, and Fortune magazine voted it one of America’s Most Admired Companies. The Corporation’s dedication to innovation, lean enterprise and rapid continuous improvement resonate throughout Hearth & Home Technologies. To learn more, visit us at http://www.hnicorp.com/.
Phone: (802) 540-7662
VP and Plant Manager