With rising utility costs in industrial facilities making a significant impact on expenses, facility managers are constantly focussed on energy efficient solutions for their work environments. However, those seeking to go green and cut utility costs too often overlook the lowest hanging fruit: HVAC and lighting.

High ceilings, open spaces and inefficient light fixtures are common features across many manufacturing spaces, pushing gas and electric use to exorbitant levels. However, cheaply made floor fans or light dimmers are not effective solutions, given that employees must be comfortable, safe and productive, which can be a substantial challenge for cost- and carbon-conscious managers.

Finding a middle ground between energy use and employee comfort can be as simple as installing a ceiling fan. Big Ass Fans provide plenty of air movement for large industrial spaces, enabling year-round energy savings without compromising employee comfort.

Lighting accounts for up to 41 percent of a business’s energy use. Upgrading to Big Ass Light LEDs from incandescent, metal halide or fluorescent bulbs can drastically reduce lighting costs.

The sheer scope of retrofitting an existing manufacturing facility can be quite intimidating; however, facility managers can work with Big Ass Fans Australia for an end-to-end fan and light retrofit service, starting from energy-savings estimates and custom layouts to sales, installation and after-sale service – with little to no effort on the part of the business or interruption to operations.

Fans can save energy even in winter

While fans are proven energy savers for industrial facilities in summer with their efficient cooling, many industrial users of Big Ass Fans see their biggest energy savings in colder months.

Hot air pumped into buildings during cold months is typically around 5 percent lighter than the outside air. Because heat rises, temperatures at floor-level are drastically lower than those near the ceiling, a problem made worse in facilities with higher ceilings, poor insulation and constantly opening bay doors.

Meanwhile, heating systems expend tremendous amounts of energy to try to overcome this process, known as thermal stratification. Hot air typically has to ‘stack’ from the ceiling downward until the desired temperature is finally reached at floor level, triggering the thermostat to shut off the heater.

Big Ass Fans push warm air collected at high ceiling levels towards the floor, keeping employees comfortable and productive. These fans can also reduce utility costs by minimising heater run time or allowing the thermostat set point to stay at a lower temperature.

Case study: AMSOIL Inc.

During the cold winter months, temperatures at ground-level in the 450,000sft metal facility were up to 30°F colder than at the ceiling. Not only were employees shivering while they worked, but AMSOIL Inc. was wasting money pouring heated air into a space that had no effective means of getting that air where it was needed most. To eliminate waste and more evenly heat the space, AMSOIL Inc. installed six 24ft (7.31m) and two 14ft (4.26m) Big Ass Fans. The fans push hot air down and significantly reduce the temperature differential between ceiling and floor – from 30°F to about 1°F. The company’s gas consumption fell by 35 percent.

To effectively destratify the air in spaces as large as the common manufacturing facility, the fans must be large enough to move an immense amount of air throughout open spaces and around obstructions, such as shelving and equipment. A single large fan spinning typically uses much less power than multiple pedestal or high-speed ceiling fans often utilised in such facilities.

Lighting efficiency

Lighting presents similar problems in large industrial facilities. Installing cheap metal halide and fluorescent fixtures may save on upfront costs, but these fixtures use more energy than Big Ass Light LEDs and require more maintenance over the long term. Metal halide and fluorescent bulbs can also generate unwanted heat that exacerbates the aforementioned comfort problems.

An inefficient lighting system can unnecessarily add up to high energy bills for manufacturers. Many facilities still rely on metal halide or fluorescent fixtures to light their spaces, often from heights that make lighting consistency and coverage a tough task. Not only do they have to use more fixtures but they also have to deal with high rates of replacement for bulbs and ballasts.

Case study: Atlas Machine & Supply

Lighting inefficiencies drove Atlas Machine & Supply in Louisville, Kentucky to replace their standard fluorescent fixtures with bright, energy-saving LED fixtures from Big Ass Light. The new LED fixtures not only doubled, and in some cases tripled, light levels in different areas of the 86,000sft (26,213sqm) warehouse, but also reduced energy consumption by 20 percent compared to the old fluorescent fittings. LEDs distribute light more pointedly than traditional bulbs – this simply means the light goes where it’s supposed to go. This precision helped Atlas employees read technical documents without any hassle, unlike their previous experience with dim fluorescents.

The energy use of LEDs varies by brightness and manufacturer. On average, LEDs use about 50 percent less power than metal halides, and 5 to 10 percent less power than fluorescents.

Shop for solutions, not products

Every manufacturing space is different, so every layout of fans and lights should be customised for maximum effectiveness. When considering an upgrade to fans, lights or both, seek out companies such as Big Ass Fans that offer the following:

Site visits: Sales specialists and engineers should make sure the solution they’re selling will work in the space, and the easiest way to do so is through an onsite inspection.

Custom layout: Engineers trained in airflow patterns and light distribution should model the space and create custom recommendations.

Savings estimates: Savings estimates should be carried out by trained engineers, then presented clearly and concisely prior to purchase.

Single point of contact: Installing fans and lights in multiple facilities can be a headache, especially when dealing with multiple products, manufacturers, distributors and installers. Seek a company with in-house specialists that coordinate everything.

Installation: Ensure the company provides detailed installation instructions and installation services, or seek out certified installers.

Off-hours appointments: Shutting down a production line to install fans or lights can be costly. Seek a company that works around production schedules for minimal impact.

Industrial spaces have to use a lot of energy to get their work done, but they don’t have to waste it. The energy-conscious manufacturer can utilise Big Ass Fans and Big Ass Light LED light fixtures to keep comfort and productivity up while keeping energy costs down.