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Weston Bakeries

By Installing Variable Frequency Drives, Weston Bakeries’ Sudbury Facility Saves $22,000 Annually

Weston Bakeries is a proudly Canadian company that has been in operation for over 125 years. Its Sudbury facility is one of four located in Ontario and produces 100,000 loaves of bread a day, including all of the D’Italiano brand products for the province. The facility depends on two fixed-speed, rotary-screw air compressors. Since this is a high-volume facility, the air compressors need to operate constantly and therefore use a lot of electricity. For Weston Bakeries, upgrading outdated equipment with the support of Save on Energy’s energy-efficiency programs was ideal. “They’re energy hogs,” said John Ireland, Maintenance Manager at the facility. “They account for 20 percent of the plant’s total power bill.”
 
BACKGROUND
When one of these essential air compressors at Weston unexpectedly broke down, Ireland was faced with a decision. He could either spend $14,000 to repair the disabled compressor or purchase a new, more advanced rotary-screw compressor for $22,500. Ireland discussed the situation with his local equipment supplier who indicated that his local hydro company – Greater Sudbury Hydro, in partnership with Save on Energy – could provide incentives to help cover some of the cost of a new, more efficient unit through the Save on Energy Retrofit Program
 
PROGRAM
Like other local hydro companies across the province, Greater Sudbury Hydro helps its clients identify relevant energy-saving programs, steers them through the application process and even works with the applicant’s suppliers. Within days, the company had sent Conservation Coordinator Ron Lefebvre to visit Weston facility and work with Ireland in making the upgrade.“I did some quick calculations on site and told Ireland about the potential savings,” Ron said. “As it turned out, my estimate was conservative, but still good enough to convince him to get on board with the program.”
 
Further analysis showed that there was a large amount of compressed air being used to generate a vacuum through the vacuum generator. To reduce on-site compressed air demand and eliminate wasteful electricity usage, a higher efficiency vacuum generator was installed as well as a vacuum storage tank. With this equipment and a reduction of leaks in the compressed air lines, the bakery was able to save five percent in overall compressed air demand.
 
This demand was further reduced by switching from desiccant air dryers to a refrigerant air dryer system. The new system only runs when required, depending on the compressed air demand and as a result is much more energy-efficient.
 
Finally, the bakery upgraded its old air compressor to a new energy-efficient one controlled by a variable frequency drive (VFD). The VFD controls the speed of the unit to meet demand requirements, which in turn saves energy compared to a fixed speed system. The project resulted in a payback of less than one year.
 
BENEFITS AND ENERGY SAVINGS
The new compressor with a VFD, which varied the compressed air flow according to need, used about 24kW - half the electricity consumed by previous always-on, fixed-speed compressor. This resulted in a total reduction of 147,600 kWh annually, yielding $22,000 in savings in the first year alone. This is in addition to the $18,600 received through the Save on Energy incentive. "The Save on Energy incentive paid us to replace a big electricity user with a more efficient and cheaper-to-operate machine," said Ireland. "it was a no-brainer."

The project took 6 months from Ireland and Lefebvre’s initial meeting until the installation was complete and the rebate cheque was received. “We couldn’t have been happier,” Ireland said. “Ron did all the legwork. Having the utility drive the process is a tremendous benefit. It was an excellent process.”
 
Since then, the Sudbury operation has taken advantage of Save on Energy incentive programs to retrofit its lighting systems, finding even more efficiencies. Ireland is now looking to retrofit the refrigeration units as a source of future energy reductions. “We are also conducting studies to see if a variable-speed compressor can achieve the same kind of reduction in energy consumption for refrigeration. If it does, we will be sure to participate in Save on Energy again. It’s a great program.”  
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