Through my continuous networking, I am privileged to meet people dealing with energy efficiency. With this post I am starting a series titled Learning from the Big. Though we target mid-sized companies, experience from market leaders can help us and our clients.

My first source of conservation experience – Atlantic Packaging – provides a total packaging solution for any need. Atlantic strives to be a sustainable company. Below is a shortened interview with the energy manager.

What is the share and volume of your utility costs?

We pay approximately $30 million annually in electrical, natural gas, and water consumption charges. Paper mills are a very energy-intensive production: utilities constitute 30-35% of direct costs.

What are your conservation goals?

Our corporate energy policy aims to reach the U.S. Department of Energy target of 2% for annual reduction in energy consumption, as well as our industry peer group TAPPI standards for recycled mills, which is to reduce our energy intensity (GJ/MT produced) and greenhouse gas emissions over the next five years by 3%.

How does Atlantic Packaging make decisions to fund energy efficiency projects?

Efficiency projects have to compete for funding on the same basis as other projects seeking capital funding. This is a tough competition, since efficiency projects are commonly smaller than those related to production or even maintenance.

How do you monitor energy consumption?

We monitor our electrical consumption in real time through our distributed control system. We read water and gas meters manually twice a day. Results are reviewed at our monthly quality meetings to identify and discuss any consumption discrepancies that may have occurred. We measure production and consumption by five-minute increments to produce average values by grade of paper. The weighted average of these averages is reported at the monthly quality meetings. Currently we are exploring the benefits of doing regression analysis; an engineer is assigned to find proper solutions. 
Atlantic Packaging - Standard Boxes

What have you done in the area of energy management? What are plans for 2015?

Over the last three years, we have completed more than 30 projects, which have resulted in over 7,900 MWh of energy savings for the mills. This constitutes about 2% of our annual consumption of about 400,000MWh. We have also created a peak prediction software that has effectively reduced our Global Adjustment monthly repayments to the IESO. For 2015, we are working on engaging our employees and management staff to better understand how to identify energy projects and add value to our program. The engagement process is being developed and piloted at other mills. Upon evaluating the pilot results, this process will be implemented at our mill.

What would you do to achieve deeper savings?

Install more meters at the circuit or machine level. Currently we measure at the control center level – a transformer serving different types of equipment. This makes analyzing collected data less effective. It’s difficult to validate and showcase actual results of completed projects.

What energy conservation projects you are most proud of?

We have combined two recycling streams into one, eliminating the need for a piece of machinery that worked 24/7 costing $60,000 in energy alone. This machine has been decommissioned. In addition to directly saving energy, this project resulted in decreased maintenance work and freed production floor space.

We also have installed 400 LED fixtures in production and maintenance space. Maintenance employees praised the better lighting. Management acknowledged increased morale at the maintenance shop.