Packaging company Orora was originally part of Amcor. When it was demerged at the end of 2013, it set itself a target of reducing energy use – and CO2 emissions – by 10 per cent; a target that, according to GM for resources and energy Peter Dobney, the company has outperformed.
The company’s 11 factories across Australia are very different, and lighting contributed played a bigger energy-reduction role at some sites than others. For example, Dobney says it played a lesser role at the two largest sites, a paper mill and a glass bottle manufacturing plant.
"If there is poor or no lighting it can create dangerous situations"
Generally Orora prefers new equipment to pay for itself in two and half years or less, and the energy cost calculations were complicated by the differing energy tariffs across the country.
The differences between the factories also meant a diverse range of lighting was installed. ‘Some areas need lighting seven days a week and some needed to be on for just five, and back-of-house areas also had different requirements,’ says Dobney. Not only that, there were health and safety considerations. ‘If there is poor or no lighting it can create dangerous situations,’ says Dobney. ‘Some areas have no daylight and certain machinery needs specialist lighting so we had to find the best solution for the situation.’
To meet the company’s diverse needs, Orora chose warehouse and factory lighting from Thorlux. Other energy-efficient lighting, such as LED tubes, was used in back-of-house areas and for task lighting on the factory floor.
Smart lighting addresses a common problem in many warehouses; lighting is often unnecessarily left on all day and, Dobney asks, ‘on a factory floor, who knows where the light switches are anyway?’
The lights sense changes in light intensity as a result of changing cloud cover. ‘For instance, cloud cover would mean the natural lighting is decreased, so the Smart lighting reacts and increases the light’s output to maintain the desired light levels,’ explains Nick Pockett Thorlux Sales Manager.
The Thorlux Solow XL was fitted in most of Orora’s high bay areas. They consume less power than the high bay luminaires they replaced, and the daylight sensors cut energy use as well.
Kanby T5 controllers are fitted in the low-level areas, where fewer fittings were used, further decreasing power consumption.
"Generally the workforce was very happy, but when the lights went off, we did have to reassure them they would automatically come back on."
The smart luminaires have passive infrared sensors, so the lights are switched on only when they are needed. Lights can be timed to turn off between 30 seconds and 10 hours later, dimmed to any desired light level and held, regardless of the amount of daylight. All of this is set up with a handheld smart programmer that uses IR to communicate directly with the luminaire.
The scale of the project and its unique problems mean the lighting upgrade has taken over two years. ‘It was challenging to carry out installations in a plant running 24/7,’ says Dobney, ‘so we sometimes had to stockpile the lights and work out when we were going to install them.’
There were also some areas which were hard to access, and some in which machinery had to be shut down. ‘Scheduling is really important for site engineers,’ says Dobney.
After the installation was complete, says Dobney, the company had to re-educate the workforce. ‘Generally the workforce was very happy, but when the lights went off, we did have to reassure them they would automatically come back on.’
In total, the project has cost AUS$6 million and Dobney says lighting represents a reasonable proportion of this. The lighting retrofit was a significant factor when Orora won the ‘Leading Energy User 2014’ award from the Energy Efficiency Council and Energy Users Association of Australia at the National Energy Efficiency Industry Awards last year.
Orora was praised for hitting its five-year EnviroAction targets two years ahead of schedule, and for a 36.5 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions from lighting through the introduction of smart lights across the business.
Orora’s focus is now on upgrading the lighting in its six New Zealand manufacturing sites.