On Demand: Linamar brings energy reduction plan to 25 manufacturing sites
Guelph, Ont.-based Linamar Corp. has grown from a small machining operation to a global supplier of vehicle and mobile industrial equipment with 37 manufacturing facilities worldwide. It designs and manufactures precision metal components for the global vehicle and power generation markets, as well as designs and produces aerial work platforms and other equipment for its industrial business segment.
As the company has grown, so has its yearly energy usage. This dynamic presented a paradox for the environmentally conscious company: it was eager to minimize its energy usage as much as possible but did not want to impede its manufacturing operations. The customized energy reduction plan proposed by EnerNOC for its DemandSMART–Ontario program was exactly the solution Linamar needed to participate in the Ontario Power Authority’s DR3 scheme. EnerNOC helped the company identify potential areas for energy reductions while leaving critical manufacturing processes untouched.
As a local expert with global backing, EnerNOC had the most on-the-ground knowledge of Ontario’s demand response program and, more importantly, the ability to understand Linamar’s business and match the two in a win-win partnership.
Site-specific demand response
Linamar was keen to reduce energy usage wherever possible, but with 25 separate facilities across Ontario, knowing where to begin was an intimidating challenge EnerNOC was up for. In early 2009, representatives from EnerNOC visited all of the site managers at Linamar’s various facilities. They conducted interviews and determined what level of participation would be right for each individual plant.
“EnerNOC took us through the process step-by-step,” recalled Tony Luis, Linamar’s director of purchasing. “They met with each individual plant, and explained what each site’s involvement would be in a demand response dispatch.”
The company outlined a curtailment plan for each Linamar facility, met with each facility manager to have it approved and ran tests at each site to make sure the reductions would be effective during a demand response dispatch. Ultimately, consensus was reached across all 25 plants, and each one signed on to its unique energy-reduction plan.
Linamar’s two requirements for its plants’ curtailment plans were to:
1. maintain employee safety at all times; and
2. allow its manufacturing processes to continue unimpeded.
Therefore, when a demand response dispatch occurs, Linamar practices non-operational curtailment measures, such as reducing air conditioning in the plants’ front offices, dimming lights and reducing the air cycle schedule in the plants. Through these measures, Linamar’s 25 plants provide a total reduction of 2.4 megawatts (MW) per dispatch. Since joining the program in 2009, Linamar has been dispatched an average of six times per year.
For Linamar, participating in demand response with EnerNOC is straightforward. Four hours before a dispatch begins, EnerNOC contacts the designated point person at each facility. The contacts acknowledge the dispatch via email or cell phone, and the company then sends out an internal email to tell its staff the dispatch is occurring. Two hours before the actual dispatch, Linamar’s sites implement their respective curtailment plans. “We like to be proactive and make sure we will be able to meet our goals. We test this prior to the dispatch taking place,” Luis said. From his computer, he can monitor each site’s energy consumption in real time via EnerNOC’s DemandSMART online application, ensuring that each site is meeting its targets. If he observes any one of the sites not adhering to its plan, he will make a call to investigate. The dispatch lasts exactly four hours.
Linamar’s 2.4 MW reductions earn the company hundreds of thousands in annual payments from EnerNOC. In addition to these financial benefits, the company has also enhanced its own internal understanding of its various plants, and increased its awareness of what processes have the greatest impact on the company’s energy usage.
EnerNOC demand response brings additional benefits to the company as well:
• Business continuity: For most manufacturing companies, the financial incentives from demand response prompt them to pursue a full or partial shutdown of manufacturing processes while the crew are deployed to other activities like equipment maintenance. For Linamar, though, EnerNOC was able to identify substantial energy reductions outside of core manufacturing processes, so Linamar enjoys rewards without disruption to its business.
• Business intelligence: EnerNOC’s DemandSMART technology provides Linamar with a way to monitor its disparate facilities from a central online portal. Prior to working with EnerNOC, “Our plants were not connected to each other at all,” Luis noted. “EnerNOC gave us tools to help identify what processes in our manufacturing have the greatest impact on our energy use. Our plants are now connected.”
• Local support: If a certain plant struggles to reach expected reductions during dispatches, EnerNOC visits that site to discuss adjustments to its curtailment plan. “EnerNOC is very involved in the process of making DR work for each of
• Sustainability: “A lot of our decision-making processes are green-conscious,” Luis said. “The DR3 program is just another element of how we do things here. We appreciate the financial benefits but we also learn about our business’ effect on our electricity usage.” Often, individual plants will challenge themselves to continue curtailment even longer than the official dispatch period. “We take certain measures to reduce electricity during curtailment, but now plants are asking themselves, ‘Can we do these things over longer periods?’ ” Linamar recently renewed its contract with EnerNOC so that it will continue to understand its own energy usage and reap financial benefits at the same time.
This is an edited article provided by EnerNOC. For more information, visit www.enernoc.com.