Seeing The Light

A good lighting plan can save at least 20 percent on energy costs, but re-evaluating lighting in a facility can do even more, says Daniel Gould, president of Synergy, Westborough, Mass.
“In the past five years there’s been a whole revolution in how to light manufacturing and warehouses,” Gould says. “Instead of going in and just thinking about the energy savings as if it’s a school or office building, we look at how to increase productivity, safety and morale, really brighten up task areas — and at the same time save some money.”
Gould says the improvements are the result of a combination of more efficient fluorescent lighting and more appropriate task lighting. Compared with metal halide lighting, improvements in fluorescent lighting and fixtures have resulted in nearly 50 percent savings in wattage per fixture, with an equivalent light output.
It also is cost efficient to pay attention to where lights are located in a facility, putting motion sensors in areas that do not require constant lighting and making sure lighting is not covered by racking systems or conveyors, he says.
“Nobody really pays attention to the lights after they’re put in,” Gould says. “We have a term for it called BOBA, or Big Open Box Approach — that’s how a typical engineering firm will lay out the fixtures on a specific spacing. In some areas it’s just dead storage, in others it’s a highly specific task area, and in some there are forklift trucks driving around. It’s taking a hard look at the existing facility and saying ‘Where do you need the light and what’s the appropriate light?’
“Now people are saying, ‘Wow, I can see my work, I can see what’s going on. Once it’s all explained, customers see that it’s common sense.”