Group of 3M Canada employees

3M Canada

3M Canada leverages energy-efficiency programs for competitive advantage.

The more energy-efficient 3M Canada's plant in London becomes, the more likely its operations will remain competitive, thinks Corporate Energy Manager Andrew Hejnar.

That's why he's a big fan of Save on Energy's programs. According to Hejnar, the energy-efficiency projects his team began implementing in 2004 have shown strong results so far, improving 3M Canada's global competitiveness to a point where he sees production coming back to Canada.

“Energy is a large part of the plant’s overall operating cost, but that figure would be much higher had we not focused on energy efficiency,” said Hejnar. “My goal is to keep looking for those opportunities to reduce our demand and to stay in touch with Save on Energy programs that will work in our favour. What our team does has a direct bearing on our plant’s competitiveness and how well 3M competes globally.”

The plant’s Energy Coordinator, Scott Doyle, oversaw the installation of high-efficiency motors equipped with variable frequency drives (VFDs) that integrated automation into the plant’s manufacturing lines. The energy team also upgraded process boilers and chillers to high-efficiency systems with VFDs that allow them to better manage energy demand as process demand decreases.

“Heating, cooling and ventilation systems can represent more than 20 per cent of the plant’s energy costs,” says Doyle. “We upgraded the building HVAC and lighting systems, thinking it would help manage our consumption, and it did. But we also found that with those upgrades, employee comfort levels improved significantly. Productivity goes hand-in-hand with energy efficiency.”

The same thing happened when the plant replaced 1,000 of the plant’s light fixtures with T5 fluorescents and LED lights.

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Consider this: since 2005, the plant has achieved a 29 per cent energy reduction at its seven Canadian manufacturing sites, thanks to energy-efficiency initiatives. At the company’s London facility, peak demand dropped by almost 50 per cent between 2005 and 2014. “Energy prices rose during this period, but at this facility, our energy bills remained constant.”

Hejnar says the team looks at all these benefits when thinking about future energy projects. “It’s not just about the financial benefits. It's also important that they help support our sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction goals and keep us competitive.”