The power of energy 'treasure hunts' in manufacturing - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, GHG Emissions, Industrial, Utilities  -  June 28, 2016 - By Amy Poszywak

Three years in, energy 'treasure hunts' still yield big savings for U.S. manufacturer

Exclusive to Smart Energy Decisions 

This story is the fourth in a series of original features exploring the successes of a selection of corporations recognized by Energy Star for achievements in energy efficiency. Each company we've talked with for this series, made possible through our partnership with Energy Star, has a unique story about their efforts to reduce electric use across their organization. Taken in aggregate, we hope the series provides readers with a useful glimpse into the kinds of strategies being implemented across the commercial and industrial sectors as well as a deeper understanding of vetted, real-life tactics for cutting consumption. 

After helping test and formulate the energy treasure hunt guide that the U.S. EPA's Energy Star group has made available to all types of institutions and businesses, Intertape Polymer Group has been working to implement hunts across its 11 locations in North America. 

Energy treasure hunts, according to Intertape corporate energy manager Philip Kauneckas, has been key to reducing the company's total energy intensity over the years; in 2015, the tape, film and fabrics manufacturer reported a 6% reduction, contributing to savings of more than $3 million since 2009. 

"Energy treasure hunts are different than an energy audit or assessment because they engage a lot more people and focus on improving the day to day operations," Kauneckas recently told Smart Energy Decisions. "Several cross functional teams are formed to identify low and no-cost opportunities that do not typically require a capital investment."

The company's first treasure hunt was held in partnership with Energy Star at Intertape's manufacturing plant in Danville, Va., in 2013.  Facilitated with the help of Energy Star, that treasure hunt helped establish best practices for conducting the hunts, and involved working with the plant's utility, the municipal Danville Utilities, and other local manufactures.  

Since then, Intertape has conducted nine treasure hunts in six manufacturing facilities, engaging more than 100 employees. As more of its facilities learn how to conduct them, Intertape hopes the event will be held annually at each of its locations. 

"I do not think we could have created a culture of continuous improvement to reduce energy, water, cost and emissions as effectively as we have without conducting energy treasure hunts," Kauneckas said.

Through the process, Intertape's biggest lesson learned was the value of information provided by employees that run the equipment at its sites. 

"We ask questions about how they run the equipment and what will happen if we raise/lower set points or turn equipment off.  We don’t want to negatively impact quality or production, but at the same time have found that we have used the same set points for years just because that is the way we always ran it," Kauneckas said. "Participants continue to find more opportunities after the treasure hunt because of the training and awareness the event brings." 

Intertape received recognition from Energy Star for sustained excellence in energy management in 2015. According to Energy Star, the company's efforts have resulted in a reduction of 36,406 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from energy savings.

Headquartered in Montreal, Quebec and Sarasota, Fla., Intertape is a manufacturer of tapes, films, woven fabrics and complementary packaging systems for industrial and consumer use. The company has operations in 16 locations, including the 11 manufacturing facilities in North America and one in Europe. 

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