Success Story

Manufacturing Sustainability Improvements Yield Annual Energy Cost Savings of 60% and Greater

AIM Initiative Creates Innovation Cluster in Southwestern Pa. to Promote and Mature Sustainable Manufacturing Best Practices

The Agile Innovation in Manufacturing (AIM) joint initiative of NCDMM, Catalyst Connection, Innovation Works, and the Westmoreland/Fayette Workforce Investment Board, promoted sustainable manufacturing best practices in southwestern Pennsylvania (SWPA).

AIM was awarded by the Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (AMJIAC), a multi-agency partnership between the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Small Business Administration, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration that support initiatives that strengthen advanced manufacturing in regional industry clusters.

AIM targeted SWPA start-ups or established manufacturers with 500 or fewer employees; those involved in metal manufacturing or additive manufacturing, or manufacture electrical equipment for the energy, advanced electronics, and/or life sciences industries; and that operated in a nine-county area of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland.

Conducting sustainability assessments that focused on four critical manufacturing areas that potentially yield the greatest energy reductions

NCDMM, working with the DOE, developed new manufacturing best practices for energy consumption reduction and raw materials usage and conducted site and facility assessments free of charge to eligible manufacturers. From the assessments, NCDMM made recommendations as they related to machine optimization, component and tooling fixture optimization, processing optimization and/or new processing methods, and raw material reduction and supply chain optimization, as well as welding operations, HVAC systems, and process heat.

During the three-plus-year contract, NCDMM personnel conducted more than 25 site walkthroughs and no-cost assessments, inspecting approximately 4 million square feet in manufacturing space. The AIM assessments identified a vast number of recommendations that when implemented and validated will translate into considerable average annual energy savings across the four assessed categories: 60% machining, 35% air, 78% lighting, and 60% building and process heat. The assessments also indicated savings that were orders of magnitude higher than the required investments for tool and process modifications. The AIM initiative assessment phase fulfilled the strategic intent of the DOE grant.

In addition to the energy savings, the developed methodology and front-end energy assessment methods support and align with existing ISO 50001 and DOE Superior Energy Performance (SEP) standards already in place for progressive organizations that had previously adopted Energy Management Systems within their manufacturing operations.