NEEA’s Continuous Energy Improvement System Increases Bottom Line for Multi-site Food Processor

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In February 2006, NORPAC Foods, Inc. committed to Continuous Energy Improvement (CEI), a strategic energy management program pioneered by the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA). A team of NORPAC executives representing operations, engineering, and finance decided to implement NEEA’s CEI system at the company’s Brooks plant in Salem, Oregon. One year later, having documented the tangible advantages of managing energy, NORPAC began rolling out NEEA’s CEI system at its other  five plants. The rest is history: proven—and significant—dollar savings as a direct result of strategic energy management.

Know Where You're At

NORPAC launched NEEA’s CEI system at the Brooks pilot by completing an energy management assessment. The company established goals and communicated them throughout the organization. These goals focused on managing and reducing energy costs, as well as on fostering a continuous improvement culture at NORPAC. The executive staff established an energy policy that allowed it to articulate and codify the corporate commitment to strategic energy management. NORPAC developed a plan to integrate energy management into its everyday business operations. This effort involved revisiting previous technical audits and conducting new audits. During the course of the engagement, NORPAC began to look beyond technical assessments by using tools such as energy mapping and root-cause-analysis to help its plants understand precisely how operation affects energy usage.

Know Where You’re Going

At the Brooks plant, NORPAC identi ed an energy champion, formed a cross-functional energy team, and wrote an energy action plan. The plan provides a map of how energy management best practices fit together holistically across NORPAC to include organizational structure, people, manufacturing systems, and measurement. Importantly, the plan is written in such a way that anyone at any level in the facility can see how his or her efforts affect the overall energy savings at NORPAC. Employee awareness training is a crucial component of NORPAC’s strategic energy management program.

Stay On Course

At the end of the first year, NORPAC created reports based on the structured approach to measurement de ned in the program at its Brooks plant. These reports ensured that NORPAC could quantify its improvements. As a result, proven performance made future energy decisions simple: NORPAC executives were so impressed with the results that they announced their intention to implement NEEA’s CEI system across the company’s five other facilities, fully committing the organization to sustainable energy management.

Profit margins increase when organizations learn to manage energy as a controllable expense, in the same way they manage labor and material costs.

Following the Brooks pilot, NORPAC expanded its corporate energy team to include a corporate energy champion role and established regular program reporting in the form of an online “energy dashboard” that is now distributed weekly to all sites. The dashboard reports energy and production totals for each facility and displays the progress made toward each plant’s energy goals. To ensure success over the long term, NORPAC promotes best energy management practices by holding monthly cross-functional energy team meetings at each plant to generate ideas, review progress, and document processes, and holds quarterly conference calls among plants. Each plant adopted its own strategic energy management plan which includes documenting their energy-saving processes, activities, and results. NORPAC periodically revisits and revises the plans to help establish a culture that drives continuous improvement—the essence of NEEA’s CEI system.

Decreases in Costs and Energy, Increases in Unexpected Benefits

In addition to the savings NORPAC achieved through strategic energy management, no less valuable are the business practice changes and improved relationships that have occurred across the organization and beyond. Employees at each NORPAC plant have gained a new understanding of the energy intensity of the products they create, resulting in smarter— and more pro table—decisions about how its facilities operate.

  • Employees discovered new ef ciencies: when operators at Plant 8 began turning off line motors during the lunch hour, NORPAC found it was able to save more than 40,000 validated kwh—equal to $2,148—over a one-year period.
  • NORPAC found that its focus on energy has resulted in improved productivity and enhanced product quality, as well as notable enhancements to inter- facility and corporate communication.
  • In addition, NORPAC reports that its implementation of NEEA’s CEI system has strengthened its working relationship with its serving utilities, and ensured plant personnel are up-to- date on valuable incentives and other programs they offer. Some of the results are evident in the table below.

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