SHELBY ─ ArcelorMittal Shelby has reduced the lighting energy usage by 60 percent through multiple light fixture upgrades.
It was a milestone in the energy management of the tubular products manufacturer, part of the ArcelorMittal Tubular Products North America. There are thousands of lights at its two plants that run every day.
Rick Gruver, manager of engineering and maintenance, said the company has spent $767,000 since 2017 on lighting projects. It has replaced more than 700 high-intensity discharge and almost 90 fluorescent light fixtures with new and more efficient LED lighting that incorporates wireless control or occupancy sensor.
Gruver said since the end of 2019, ArcelorMittal Shelby has reduced its lighting energy usage by 60 percent and saved about $400,000 on the electric bill every year. The improvement was so significant that American Electric Power recognized the company with the Energy Efficiency Champion Award.
In an early 2020 project, the company upgraded 155 old light fixtures in plant one, which used 75 percent less electricity. The bill was down by $55,000 per year. ArcelorMittal Shelby also received rewards for the less energy consumption. Gruver said the company got $147,000 in an energy efficiency improvement rebate from AEP for the projects over the years.
Better light also provided better quality control.
“Traditionally, the lights that we had would have a yellow glow to them. The ones we put out there today are white color,” Gruver said. “So when you look at something, you can distinguish colors a lot easier than you can under a yellow light, which helps with our quality control on inspecting the tubes.”
Weld mill supervisor Greg Niedermeier said the plant was dark before the new lighting. Workers sometimes needed to use a flashlight to check the detail. That is no longer the case.
High quality is why ArcelorMittal Shelby has been in business for more than 130 years. Cory Myers, employee participation team coordinator, said the company has very tight tolerance for quality. Founded in 1890, it started with producing bicycle parts and morphed into different products.
The company made bomb casings and many other military products during the two World Wars, Myers said. Nowadays, ArcelorMittal Shelby, with more than 600 employees, manufactures welded and seamless tubes for various uses.
Myers said most of the welded products are for hydraulic cylinders -- usually used for farm or construction equipment. They are also commonly used for an Otis elevator in a three-or-lower-floor building. Other welded products include axles for heavy-duty trucks. Harley Davidson, as well as General Motors, were among its customers.
As for seamless tubes, Myers said some of them are turned into tapered roller bearings. They are also used for quenching and tempering products for oil and gas drilling, a big part of the company’s business.
“We've been very fortunate that we've held our market share pretty well, even with COVID,” Myers said.
In a busy month, the two plants produce more than 24,000 tons of tubular products. Myers said about 150 semi-trucks would go in and out of the site every day to transport supplies and finished products.
As a manufacturer that operates seven days a week, Gruver said ArcelorMittal Shelby has tried to reduce energy footprints in several ways. Besides the lighting projects, onsite engineers have been upgrading less efficient equipment -- some of which were made in the 1940s.
Gruver said the company replaced the electronic parts and motors with energy-efficient devices. With the upgrade, a machine will begin with a soft start and ramp up to the speed needed, which reduces the impact on energy consumption.