Leading by example

Schneider Electric is well known as a leading provider of energy efficient products and services and has recently implemented energy efficient measures throughout its own UK operations. At the company’s Swindon site alone, savings have been generated in excess of 100,000kWh per year – a reduction of over 20%.

As the first step in its Energy Action programme, Schneider Electric initiated a detailed energy survey, carried out by its own energy consultants who provide similar services for the company’s customers.

Underpinning this survey was the installation of energy monitoring equipment from the PowerLogic range of Merlin Gerin, a brand of Schneider Electric, in all of the site’s major circuits. Data captured using this equipment not only assisted in the identification of areas for improvement, but also enabled the effects of improvements to be quickly and accurately measured.

Lighting in the site’s production department was one of the areas in which the largest potential for savings was identified. Here, an automatic control system – based on Merlin Gerin Lux lighting controllers was installed turning the lights on when the ambient lighting levels fall below a preset value, and off again when these levels rise. To provide the most energy efficient control, the production area is split into two zones, each with its own switching threshold.

In addition, an overriding control function is provided by time switches in each zone, which are arranged to ensure that the lights, other than emergency lighting, are never left on at times when the production area is not staffed. The lighting control measures have saved between 12,500 and 20,000 kWh per year.

Lighting in other locations on the site also received attention, and passive infrared (PIR) sensors from Clipsal were fitted in areas such as toilets, reception, the post room and the development laboratory, most of which are not continuously staffed.

The sensors are programmed to turn off the lighting automatically in areas that remain unoccupied for a predetermined period, and to turn it on again as soon as someone enters the area. In some of the locations, the same sensors are also used to control ventilation fans. In the areas where PIR control has been fitted, the PowerLogic meters show that it is delivering energy savings in excess of 50%, equating to some 4,000 kWh per year.

The energy audit further revealed that savings were also possible with outside lighting in the car park areas. Here, several floodlights were identified as being unnecessary to operate continuously during the hours of darkness. These have been separated from the main system, and are now controlled by a time switch from Square D, a brand of Schneider Electric. This simple and inexpensive measure yields significant energy savings.

Other issues that have been successfully addressed include the carton taping machines where photoelectric controls from the Telemecanique range have been fitted to ensure that the drive belts run only when a product is present, and the chargers for fork-lift truck batteries where time switches have been added to ensure that charging only takes place at times when the off-peak electricity supply tariff is in force. Additional time switches have been installed to eliminate out-of-hours operation of vending machines, water heaters and office equipment.

Commenting on the energy saving measures introduced, Kevin Jones, Consultancy Solutions Manager for Schneider Electric, said: “In every case, the modifications needed were very straightforward and there was negligible disruption to the site’s operations. The cost of carrying out the work was modest, yet it is yielding large energy savings without in any way affecting the work we carry out on the site. It’s worth noting that measures similar to those we have taken could easily be implemented by almost any company.”

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