Energy Management

Efficiency Made Easy: One Company’s Secret to Cutting Carbon Emissions

3 min read

As a leader in the powder coating and E-coating industry, B.L. Downey Company’s success depends on its ability to apply high quality coating systems on time and at a competitive price to its customer partners. Having the ability to process a wide variety of small, medium and large parts at high volumes quickly and consistently is what makes B.L. Downey Company truly unique in the custom coater arena.

Its massive ovens and processing lines can pre-treat, coat and finish parts as large as 50 feet long by 9 feet wide and 14 feet tall while at the same time processing millions of small to medium sized parts on one of the dozen powder coating lines or the five E-coat lines. 

B.L. Downey Company has been in operation since 1956.The company’s 320,000-square-foot facility, in operation since 1956, needed upgrades to improve safety, quality and operational efficiency while reducing its carbon footprint. Its managers wanted to demonstrate a commitment to the environment in an industry where sustainability and continuous improvement matters.

“The green aspect of what we do is very important,” said B.L. Downey Company co-owner and president David Wasz. “Some of our larger customers use an incredible amount of liquid paint. If they review the criteria and the factors associated with their finishing choice and determine they are equal, they’re likely going to choose e-coat and/or powder instead of liquid paint because it’s more environmentally friendly.” 

Working with Constellation, B.L. Downey Company implemented an Efficiency Made Easy project that allowed it to make approximately $1 million in upgrades without an upfront capital investment

VIDEO: Hear B.L. Downey’s leaders share their success story:

Since the project was completed in May 2014, B.L. Downey Company has reduced its electric usage by 10 percent, or approximately 500,000 kilowatts per year, and reduced natural gas usage by more than 350,600 therms annually. Collectively, this reduced its carbon footprint by more than 4 million pounds per year. That’s like taking 382 cars off the road each year or eliminating 93 garbage trucks filled with waste, according to the U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator

Here are three key components of the project that contributed to enhanced performance and improved efficiency. 

Implementing Automated Temperature Controls

B.L. Downey Company’s custom coating application technologies demand a uniform temperature curve as each part moves through the over 150-foot-long ovens. Its existing ovens were operated by manual controls, making them more prone to temperature variations and wasted energy. The exhaust blowers also needed to be manually adjusted for each application and were difficult to control.

The company installed automated temperature controls to enable oven temperatures to be automatically preconfigured to optimize the time at temperature settings for the variety of coating systems being applied to customer parts. This improved temperature uniformity, which optimized quality, throughput, and also reduced natural gas consumption. The plant’s combustion air blowers, motors and exhaust fans were also replaced for additional efficiency improvements. 

Upgrading Lighting

The facility’s lighting still used outdated T12 fluorescent bulbs, which have been discontinued due to their shorter lifespan and inefficient technology. Proper lighting is essential to meet increasingly high standards for gloss evaluation for the variety of coatings applied, which require specific lighting criteria when reviewing coating gloss on parts. Improving lighting was also an important safety concern. The company upgraded its low-bay lighting inside the plant and also added high-efficiency exterior lights to improve visibility in the parking lot for its employees on the second and third shifts. 

This improved visibility and safety. It also had an impact on morale for the plant’s approximately 180 employees, many of whom have worked at the plant for more than two decades, Wasz said. 

B.L. Downey Company is now a T12-free lighting facility that meets federal efficiency standards.


Ongoing Energy Management

To further reduce its carbon footprint, B.L. Downey Company installed occupancy sensors in common areas and vending machines. As part of a broader energy management strategy, it also has an ongoing relationship with Constellation. Our team helps B.L. Downey Company monitor its usage and develop a long-term plan for energy procurement based on market projections and its own budget projections. 

The facility’s owners can access energy management tools and other resources to help them make more informed decisions about their usage and purchasing plans. 

Through our Efficiency Made Easy program, B.L. Downey Company is able to pay for its efficiency upgrades over a five-year period, using the savings it achieves. Those savings have allowed them to keep their operational costs in check and minimize the need to pass increased costs onto their customer-partners. 

“The fact we’re able to fund this project through EME and pay it back over five years was huge,” Wasz said. “We would not have made that investment on our own.”

To learn more about how your company can implement upgrades through Efficiency Made Easy, contact us today. 

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