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Two university engineering students who interned this summer at Maryland manufacturers identified more than $400,000 in annual savings through energy conservation and other efficiency measures.
Building on a track record of successful summer internships since 2000, MDE teamed up again this past summer with the University of Maryland Manufacturing Assistance Program (MAP) to offer students the opportunity to put their engineering training to work. The two students, one supported by MDE through federal Pollution Prevention (P2) funding and the other by the Manufacturing Assistance Program, were placed at snack manufacturer Frito-Lay’s Harford County plant and at radio technology manufacturer Thales Communications Inc. to find ways to increase efficiency, reduce pollution, and save money at these facilities.
The interns spent time over the spring semester familiarizing themselves with the facilities so that they were able to hit the ground running when summer came. Their enthusiasm and hard work paid off as each presented final case studies that amounted to $433,000 in annual savings and a 2,945 megawatt hours (MWh) or 336 kilowatts (KW) annual reduction in electrical usage.
Frito-Lay, Aberdeen, MD
Frito-Lay, the nation’s largest snack manufacturer, employs 400 people at their Aberdeen plant, which produces Tostitos, Sun Chips, and Rold Gold brands. Abdul Bari, a graduate student in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Maryland, was tasked with implementing a number of specific P2 projects as well as defining new energy efficiency projects. The leadership team at Frito-Lay Aberdeen set a goal for Abdul of saving 100 KW in electrical savings during his internship.
The projects Abdul worked on included: a corn transfer system upgrade; a conveyor belt automatic shut-off system; compressed air leak detection; relocation of moisture-sensing equipment; energy efficient lighting; and a flow control valve upgrade. As part of the corn transfer upgrade project, Abdul reviewed competitive bids and recommended a project that will save Frito-Lay 700,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually.
In addressing the task of identifying compressed air leaks, Abdul gained valuable experience by leading a Six Sigma Kaizan Event. Six Sigma provides a methodical process for improving quality over time,while Kaizan Events typically bring staff together for a short period of time to address a defined objective that will improve efficiency. As part of the Kaizan Event, Abdul led a team of plant employees in detecting and fixing compressed air leaks throughout the facility. The leaks identified and fixed that day will save Frito-Lay $5,000 annually. The Kaizan Event, along with other leak audits, have identified additional leaks that when fixed will result in $12,000 in annual savings.
As part of his intership, Abdul also investigated the possibility of installing photovoltaic panels. The plant is looking into receiving LEED certification by 2012 and solar panels would save on energy costs as well as help the company receive LEED certification.
In total, Abdul identified opportunities that will save Frito-Lay Aberdeen $175,000 and 190 KW in energy annually, a 5 percent reduction in overall energy use, reducing their carbon footprint by 1,300 metric tons carbon equivalent (MTCO2e), or 6 percent.
Rich Smucker, operations manager at Frito-Lay, Aberdeen, said he was impressed by Abdul’s results and “pleased with the volume of meaningful work and ideas generated by the program.”
Abdul, now a Transportation Engineer for the Maryland Aviation Administration, was motivated by his experience at Frito-Lay, saying, “I worked on eight or ten projects and still had eight or ten in my head that I wanted to do.”
Thales Communications, Inc., Clarksburg, MD
Cillian Jenkins, a Mechanical Engineering student at the University of Maryland, College Park, also had a meaningful internship experience.
“I was interested in the program because it offered the opportunity to work on environmental projects, and that’s something I’d like to pursue in my career,” he said.
At Thales, Cillian was tasked with performing an energy and waste minimization assessment at each of their four buildings. He identified a number of opportunities that will provide savings and quick returns on investment. He recommended a system that ensures that all test equipment used in the manufacturing facility and engineering labs is turned off when the building is not in use. The system would save more than 808,000 kWh of electricity and $73,000 annually with a 7-month payback period. Implementing a system that shuts down all computers when not in use would save an additional 640,000 kWh and $58,000 annually. Cillian also recommend replacing paper hand towels with energy efficient air hand dryers, which would save $31,000 with a 15-month payback period and reduce the amount of waste sent to the landfill.
Cillian also recommended investing in a high-volume shredder and compactor for the facility’s cardboard and other recyclables, which could yield an annual $2,000 profit and increase its recycling rate. He also found potential savings in the air compressor system and through the potential use of destratification fans, which improve heating and cooling efficiency. Finally, Cillian studied various compressed work week options and estimated cost savings ranging from 9,000 to 72,000 gallons of fuel and $45,000 to $381,200 in savings to Thales employees.
In total, Cillian identified 1,680 MWh in electrical savings with a total capital investment of $80,600, and potential annual savings of $258,200. Jim Sohn, Training Manager at Thales, participated in the MDE/MAP Environmental Management System Program in 2007 and led his company’s efforts to achieve ISO 14001 environmental management certification in 2009. He knows the importance of continuous improvement in environmental management. Sohn said that “Cillian’s knowledge, focus, and energy made a substantial, positive impact on our environmental initiatives.”
For more information on the P2 Intern project and other P2 technical assistance programs, click here, or contact MDE P2 and Sustainability coordinator Laura Armstrong at 410-537-4119, Laura.Armstrong@maryland.gov