Energy audits get manufacturer WIRED
If you think you have high heating and electrical bills, consider this: Haynes International Inc. spends $9.5 million in natural gas and $5 million in electricity annually at its Kokomo, IN plant.
The company is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of technologically advanced performance alloys, primarily for the aerospace and chemical processing industries. Headquartered in Kokomo, Haynes has additional plants in North Carolina and Louisiana, with service centers throughout the U.S., Europe and China. With 1,200 employees worldwide, the company not only faces huge costs, but is also challenged with building and maintaining a skilled-trades workforce.
“We’re looking for employees who can problem solve and trouble shoot, not just follow instructions,” said Jean Neel, vice president for corporate affairs for Haynes. “Like all manufacturers today, we know that the kind of talent pool to keep our business growing strong requires a combination of safety awareness, environmental awareness, technical skills, problem solving and continuing education.”
Given the size of the company’s huge furnaces and related energy bills, Haynes was interested when it heard about a new program offered by the Indiana Manufacturing Extension Partnership center, through the Technical Assistance Program (TAP) at Purdue University. The program is part of a three-year pilot initiative in North Central Indiana, supported by a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) program is one of dozens across the country in which regional government, economic development and business leaders are working together to develop and implement transformational strategies focused on workforce improvements that will have long-lasting economic impact on the entire region.
For North Central Indiana, one of the key strategies is to “develop 21st Century talent,” explains Christy Bozic, manager of business innovation for TAP and the coordinator of the WIRED grant for the organization. Via the WIRED grant, the program has zeroed in on some of the key skills workers need today, by industry cluster, and is providing the training that will help these industries become globally competitive.
“Today’s workers and their employers need many new skills to succeed, compared to what was needed even just 10 years ago,” said Bozic. “Environmental training that will empower workers to identify and implement waste reduction and other environmental improvements is one of the most important.”
The program began with an energy assessment of the company, including onsite training and energy-stream mapping. TAP partnered with the Department of Energy for the assessment in which it identified ways to decrease utility bills, decrease production costs and curb emissions throughout the facility.
One area the assessment pointed to for improvement was the plant’s gas-fired reheat furnaces. Through examining oxygen levels, gas consumption, quality demands, processes and leaks, the company realized within just a few months annual cost savings of half a million dollars in gas usage. “Given our enormous gas and electric bills, even just a small percentage in savings translates into big dollars,” said Neel.
For Haynes, the energy assessment was just the start of an ongoing sustainable program. The company gathered an internal team of employees to be trained, receive energy efficiency certificates and become energy stewards. This team is now routinely involved in reviews of the company’s production process, upgrades and capital improvements, with a goal to continually improve energy efficiency, conservation and emissions reductions throughout the plant.
|Ethan Rogers is the manager of energy efficiency services for the firstname.lastname@example.org .|