Ian’s ‘light bulb moment’ a big money saver
WHEN Ian Yeo started his electrical apprenticeship at Fletcher International Exports he had no idea he’d one day wind up as the plant’s electrical manager, nor did he suspect that he’d be able to pay back the company many times over for giving him the skills to carve out a rewarding career.
He’s just finished a project which has seen about 750 energy-hungry 400-watt lights replaced with far more efficient types, and it’s already paying off big time.
“That equated to about 300 kilowatts of energy just for lighting, so we dropped all those from 400 watts down to 120 watts each and that reduced our lighting load by 201 kilowatts, and on ballpark figures that’s about $200,000 a year in power we’re saving,” Mr Yeo said.
“The actual capital investment was around $180,000 and we received energy credits, so the actual job didn’t end up costing too much.”
While the massive reduction in the plant’s power bill is a great advantage, there are plenty of co-benefits which are also now coming into play.
“We’ve reduced the number of lights we’ve got because the new lights are a lot brighter, so it provides a better environment especially on the floor. They can see what they’re doing better so it’s a safe environment.
“We also end up with a better quality product because when you’ve got a brighter light you can pick up more defects and things like that,” Mr Yeo said.
He explained that the old 400watt lights were a combination of metal halide, mercury vapour and sodium vapour which are the oldstyle, big glass globes. They’ve all been replaced by the LEDS which have far greater longevity compared to the old lights which start to deteriorate over time.
“Every two years we were replacing the bulbs and they were about $50 to $60 a bulb, so with more than 700 lights that was another big cost which we don’t have to do any more – these lights should be good to leave on all day every day for at least 10 years without having any issues with them.
if we had a brown-out we’d look at 10 minutes downtime and, at an average cost of about $1000 a minute, it cost us about 10 grand just waiting for the lights to come back on, so that’s another factor taken out of it as well,” Mr Yeo said.
Australia is a high wage, high overhead nation compared to many of our competitors on the global stage, so Ian Yeo is pleased that his department has the culture to identify longer term strategies to keep the plant as efficient as possible – he said everyone’s jobs are at stake.
“Roger (Fletcher) doesn’t pay us just to turn up every day, he pays us to provide a service and so it’s good that we can actually do a project that can knock 200 grand a year off his power bill – which is only growing every year – so he can see he’s getting value for money out of his workers,” Mr Yeo said, pointing out that the plant’s culture is for everyone to take ideas to improve things right to the top.
“Everyone here sort of looks out for the company, you don’t just turn up every day to get a pay. You’re always doing what you can to improve things.
“Everyone knows that the meat industry’s a bit of a cutthroat market and there’s places closing down all the time so whatever we can do to make the place better and more efficient is going to make things better for the long term, for sure,” he said.
Electrical Manager Ian Yeo helped instigate and implement a light replacement program that is estimated will save over $200,000 a year. PHOTO: DUBBO PHOTO NEWS.