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Case study: IoT lighting system cuts energy costs, improves productivity

Michelle Davidson | July 27, 2016
Using intelligent LED lighting systems from Digital Lumens, manufacturer Atlas Global Solutions reduced energy costs by 75% and increased productivity by 20%

You’d think that with a 3-year-old building, its fixtures and systems would be among the best on the market. Not necessarily so. 

As Atlas Global Solutions found out after conducting an energy audit of a relatively new manufacturing facility, the light fixtures were costing them more than aging manufacturing equipment—the focus of the energy audit. 

Atlas, a global protective packaging company based in Sutton, Mass., knew its 200,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility was not as energy efficient as it could be, said Frank Tavares, the global process engineer for the company. He never thought the biggest waste would be from the lights in the building, though.

“That caught everybody by surprise,” he said, “especially with a 3-year-old facility with what we thought was the latest and greatest light fixtures.” 

The facility had eight D5 lighting fixtures, which Taveres considered relatively new at the time of the audit in 2012. The fixtures’ energy consumption, however, was 1.3 million KW hours per year. 

To reduce energy use, Atlas turned to Digital Lumens and its intelligent LED lighting system. The company upgraded the lighting fixtures in the 3-year-old building near the same time it upgraded the lighting in a 15-year-old facility. For each project, Atlas installed intelligent LED fixtures and Digital Light Agents modular sensors—all connected wirelessly to Digital Lumens’ LightRules lighting and energy management software. 

The results were dramatic, Tavares said. 

Intelligent LED lights bring energy savings

Atlas first upgraded the lighting fixtures in its 15-year-old facility. It is 110,000 square feet and had 105 400-watt metal halide fixtures, which Tavares said is typical of most manufacturing warehouses. The building was using about 160,000 KW hours per year. 

Tavares said they knew just switching to LED lights would save energy and money. LED lights are significantly more efficient than traditional lights. According to Digital Lumens, a typical 400-watt metal halide lighting fixture costs about $473 per year, while an LED-retrofit with a Digital Lumens’ CLE fixture costs $154 per year. So, Tavares could potentially reduce his yearly energy expense by $34,000 in the 15-year-old building. 

For the 110,000-sq.-ft. warehouse, Atlas installed a combination of DLE and ILE high-bay light fixtures. The estimated energy usage after making the switch was expected to be 18,000KW to 20,000 KW a year. The reduction turned out to be significantly more. The facility now uses about 7,200 KW a year, Tavares said. 

Three months later, Atlas upgraded the lighting fixtures in the 200,000-sq.-ft. facility—also with a combination of DLE and ILE high-bay light fixtures. The estimated savings for switching out the D5 fixtures was expected to be about 500,000 KW per year. Since 2013, the building has averaged about 300,000 KW per year—a huge decrease from the 1.3 million KW hours per year it had been using.

 

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