Energy savings shine bright in Texas

Lock Joint Tube's manufacturing facility in Temple, Texas, has been able to reduce energy costs by installing a power-factor correction capacitor system.


Lock Joint Tube’s manufacturing facility in Temple, Texas reduced energy costs with the installations of a power-factor correction capacitor system from RPM and new lighting technologies provided by Industrial Electric Service. Courtesy: Lock Joint TubeEstablished in 1919, Lock Joint Tube (LJT) manufactures mechanical- and structural-grade steel tubing in various sizes and shapes, serving the automotive, office furniture, healthcare, and fitness markets. The company built two additional manufacturing facilities since opening its first plant in Indiana more than 90 years ago. One of the new plants is the one in Temple, Texas.

“We make every effort to be as energy efficient in our manufacturing process as we can,” said Mark Richner, plant manager at the LJT Temple facility. “With more than 120 employees working 10-hour shifts, four days a week, utility costs can be substantial for a plant our size.”

Lower electricity rates secured through deregulation helped reduce the company’s monthly utility bills. However, Richner was convinced there was more that could be done. That’s when he contacted JD Dodson at Rapid Power Management (RPM) regarding a power-factor correction analysis of the LJT plant.

Co-founded by Brad Keating and James “JD” Dodson, RPM is an energy consulting firm that specializes in helping companies to reduce their energy costs through demand- and supply-side energy management strategies. The firm’s services range from electricity and gas consulting to power-factor correction systems and lighting retrofits.

Power factor indicates electrical system efficiency. “The benefits of correcting a low power factor can be significant,” said Dodson. “Improving power factor can enable a company to avoid costly utility penalties. Uncorrected power factor can lead to power losses and voltage drops, which may result in overheating and premature equipment failure.”

RPM designed and installed a customized power-factor correction capacitor system for LJT. As a result, LJT no longer receives its reactive power from the utility but from the capacitor bank. By implementing this change, LJT started seeing lower electric bills immediately. The company currently saves around $35,000 annually.

Based on the success of the power-factor project, LJT turned to RPM to conduct another analysis at the Temple facility, which resulted in Dodson recommending a lighting system evaluation. LJT was operating 350 light fixtures, which included 400- and 1,000-W metal-halide lamps with magnetic ballasts. In addition to lowered lumen output, the metal-halide lighting created excessive heat during the summer months.

The lumen output of the old lamps deteriorated 40% to 50% during their first year in operation. Lumen output from new lighting technology would deteriorate only about 15% during the life of the lamps. Other lighting retrofit advantages include cutting energy costs, meeting environmental standards, and creating an energy-efficient environment.

RPM provided Richner with an in-depth analysis of the cost and potential savings LJT would see with the lighting retrofit. The study confirmed that a new system would provide improved lighting and cost savings, as well as a 24-month payback.

“Once we got the approval from corporate, we scheduled the lighting installation with RPM,” said Richner. “The installation took about five weeks—with no disruption to our manufacturing process.”

Industrial Electric Service, a local electrical contractor, supported the lighting retrofit. The contractor installed 114 four-lamp high bay T5 high-output fixtures in storage areas and 310 six-lamp high bay T5 high-output fixtures in production areas. Fixtures that used 1,050 W and 450 W were removed and replaced with fixtures that used 240 W and 340 W of electricity.

“Since the installation of the new lighting system in our warehouse, we’ve seen our utility costs drop by a third,” Richner said. He estimates that the savings will average roughly $30,000 annually.

“In addition to cutting costs, the light quality has improved,” said Richner. “The new lighting system delivers better illumination, consistency, improved color, reduced flicker, zero re-strike time, and greater light output over the previous system.”

Information provided by Lock Joint Tube and Rapid Power Management.

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