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General Motors facility gets LED upgrade

The expansive Lordstown, Ohio, stamping plant operated by General Motors has taken the first steps toward an energy saving retrofit that involves commercial LED lighting

As a result of the switch to an LED lighting system, the GM plant is estimated to save $800,000 annually, reducing energy costs by 80 percent. The stamping plant is part of the metal center facility in the West Plant, a series of facility's that began manufacturing for GM in 1970. Thus far, a combination of more than 1,500, 1000-watt and 400-watt metal halide fixtures were replaced with 1,246 LED fixtures ranging between 90 to 360 watts. 

"We saw this project as a great opportunity not only to enhance lighting in our facility and realize significant annual energy and maintenance savings, but also to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint as a company and help GM continue to be a leader in innovative, green- technology solutions," said Steve Rhoades, manufacturing engineering director at Lordstown.

The conversion – the largest in North America – will involve more than 6 million square feet of factory space when all is said and done, according to Eco-Business. Installed in the 40-foot high facility, the lights should operate for more than 1,500 hours without requiring any maintenance as well as provide the same brightness and illumination workers received with the halide lights. The only difference is that the LED lights are six to seven times more energy efficient. According to GM, the LED bulbs will reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by 8,500 metric tons and reduce energy consumption by 84 percent. 

Saving energy is improving the bottom line
Similar to GM, many organizations – whether they are businesses, universities or nonprofits – are beginning to realize that the environmentally friendly thing, such as using efficient commercial lighting, also increases profit margins. 

"A lot of managers and senior executives are looking more seriously at sustainability and its objectives," said Fred Wentzel, executive vice president of the National Council for Advanced Manufacturing in Washington, D.C. "They're saying, 'If we can cut down on energy usage and reduce the waste taking place in our production facilities, if we can save on the amount of water we use, then ultimately that will add to our bottom line.' It's good for the environment and good for the company's profitability."

Not just energy efficiency
The LED lights installed in the GM plant not only save money by being efficient, but by operating intelligently. Each bulb is equipped with a wireless control system. Using this system, the plant can micromanage lighting, dimming lights on breaks or aligning them with production schedules. Each light is also capable of sensing natural levels of light. During the day, the lights automatically adjust  to provide a uniform level of brightness while taking into account current light levels. This internal smart energy system cuts down on maintenance costs. The energy needed to supply an external control system is also eliminated, adding to the savings, according to CleanTechnica.

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