US Manufacturers: Get a No-Cost Energy Efficiency Assessment Courtesy of the US Department of Energy

Did you know many US manufacturers can get a completely no-cost energy audit from experts in energy conservation techniques for industrial applications?

The assessments are available courtesy of the US Department of Energy’s Industrial Assessment Center program. This was formed in 1976 with the goal of conducting research into energy conservation techniques, as well spreading ideas related to industrial energy conservation. Today, the program’s recommendations focus primarily on reducing wasted energy and increasing energy efficiency.

The audits are made through one of the program’s Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs), which are located at universities in the contiguous United States.

To qualify, businesses must be a US manufacturer with an annual energy bill between $100,000 and $2,500,000, and must be within 150 miles of an assessment center. To apply for an assessment through the program, use the “Apply for Assessment” form on the program’s website.

Meet Georgia Tech’s Industrial Assessment Center Team

One of the centers is staffed by faculty and student engineers from Georgia Tech, Florida A&M, and Florida State University. The center serves the state of Georgia, as well as parts of North Florida.

Georgia Tech's Industrial Assessment Center provides free energy efficiency assessments for manufacturers. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute.
Georgia Tech’s Industrial Assessment Center provides no-cost energy efficiency assessments for manufacturers. Photo courtesy of the Georgia Tech Enterprise Innovation Institute.

Since the program’s inception in 1982, the center has performed over 900 assessments, with recommended energy savings of around $80,000,000. In 2017, the center performed 15 assessments and proposed electrical savings of 20,300 MWh, equivalent to about $1.84M. The center currently has a total of 10 students, and has trained 168 students since its inception.

Members of the Georgia Tech Industrial Assessment Center. From left to right: Shum, Kelly, Sai, Frank, Sinan, Rachel, Toffee, Sarah, and Mikaela. Photo courtesy of the Georgia – North Florida IAC.
Members of the Georgia Tech Industrial Assessment Center. From left to right: Shum, Kelly, Sai, Frank, Sinan, Rachel, Toffee, Sarah, and Mikaela. Photo courtesy of the Georgia – North Florida IAC.

Sinan Sinharoy, the center’s Assistant Director, says that energy is a major cost for manufacturers. “If companies can bring energy efficiency into their management practices, they can eliminate waste while saving money. We recommend a lot of operational control changes as well – these can result in savings beyond energy, like increased equipment life and better maintenance practices in the plant. Because manufacturing consumes so much energy, the IAC program provides real environmental benefits that impact pollution and public health,” says Sinharoy.

Ecogate: How do you see manufacturing developing in the US in the near future?

Sinharoy: “The future is bright for US manufacturing. We have some of the best engineering schools and students in the world. They want to work for innovative companies that push the limits in technology deployment and waste reduction. From my experience, manufacturers understand that competition is high, so they want to take advantage of the resources available to them. The IAC is just one of many State and Federal programs out there to help manufacturers grow and improve their competitiveness.”

Ecogate: What do you see as the competitive advantage of the US in manufacturing? How do we maintain or extend that advantage?

Sinharoy: One advantage is the access to a highly skilled workforce. Georgia Tech just had their fall career fair – over 400 companies and 5,000 students attended the fair. Our students are eager to work, and some of them already have manufacturing experience because of internships and programs like the IAC. From my experience the biggest challenge for manufacturers is getting quality employees. Manufacturing doesn’t have a great reputation with many students – the industry needs to keep promoting itself as advanced, innovative, and well-paying. I’d like to see some types of manufacturing start moving back into cities, where it was historically concentrated – real estate is pricier, but the access to skilled labor is unparalleled.

Ecogate: What do you like best about your role in the program?

Sinharoy: Student involvement is my favorite part of the IAC program. Students are able to get out of the classroom and into factories, meeting with a range of employees from C-suite executives to maintenance technicians, and using their engineering knowledge to develop savings recommendations for real manufacturers. I enjoy guiding them through the process and helping them gain valuable experience for their careers.

Ecogate: What skills and values do you teach students in your program?

Sinharoy: Communication is important – we work as a team and have tight deadlines. We have found that nothing beats in-person communication while working on our reports. We have a dedicated area in our office for students, and require them to work together in person, as opposed to sending emails back and forth. We encourage them to ask questions to get a full understanding of how systems and processes work.

The Georgia Tech / Florida A&M – Florida State University Industrial Assessment Center’s brochure is available here. Manufacturers in Georgia or North Florida interested in getting a no-cost assessment from the center can apply through the center’s website.

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Visit Ecogate at W18 in Birmingham, UK – September 30 – October 3

If you will be in the United Kingdom between September 30 and October 3, make sure to see Ecogate technology in action at W18, the UK’s national show for the Joinery and Furniture Industries, held at the NEC in Birmingham, UK.

W18 Exhibition

Ecogate technology will be displayed at the Dust Control Systems Ltd (DCS Group) Stand K610.

The distinctive ECOGATE® “greenBOX” is fast becoming a ubiquitous sight in Britain’s woodworking factories and joinery workshops.

The Ecogate greenBOX NXT controller for industrial dust collection systems.
The Ecogate greenBOX NXT controller for industrial dust collection systems.

On the DCS Group stand at W18, an ‘Extraction-on-Demand’ demonstration will feature the Ecogate® greenBOX NXT control unit which, measuring just 370 x 265 x 85mm, can automatically control dust and woodwaste extraction from up to 32 production machines and, with built-in Wi-Fi and intuitive graphical interface, system status can be viewed and controlled from anywhere in the world with a smartphone or any internet-connected device.

Ecogate greenBOX NXT User Interface Shown on an iPhone
Ecogate greenBOX NXT User Interface Shown on an iPhone

The display will clearly illustrate how Ecogate® technology can dramatically reduce power consumption by regulating fan speed, in real-time, to exactly match a constantly variable extraction demand. The Ecogate® system is equally suitable for both new and retrofit installation and, with the potential to achieve savings of up to 80% on power costs, can deliver a speedy return on investment.

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Fields Are Greener With Ecogate

C W Fields & Son was established a century ago, and today is an industry-leading manufacturer, supplying high-performance security and fire doors, acoustic and hygiene doors, wall panelling, and bespoke joinery to specialist markets.

CW Fields factory equipped with Ecogate controls
CW Fields factory equipped with Ecogate controls

To satisfy growing demand for the company’s products, a new 12,000 sq ft extension to the current building has significantly increased manufacturing space – facilitating a major reorganisation of the factory layout to deliver a more efficient and streamlined production path, as well as accommodating the installation of a new five-axis CNC machine.

Instead of buying new, larger fans and filters to address the increase in air extraction requirements, Dust Control Systems (DCS) calculated the existing equipment could be used – if equipped with Ecogate controls.

In fact, the data collected at Fields revealed that the expected average reduction in extraction volume requirement, across the complete extraction system, would be around 20% with Ecogate installed, which meant the existing extraction fans and filter unit could continue to operate well within their specified capacities.

Ecogate Power Master Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) and greenBOX 12 controllers at C W Fields & Son
Ecogate Power Master Variable Frequency Drives (VFDs) and greenBOX 12 controllers at C W Fields & Son

With Ecogate installed, it was calculated that power consumption could be reduced by around 100,000kWh per year – yielding a saving of over 40% on electricity bills. As well as the significant cost savings predicted for C W Fields’ electricity bills, the expected reduction in power usage equates to a staggering reduction in annual CO2 emissions of over 57 tonnes.

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