Recycling Plant Reinforces Sustainability with Panoramic Power®

AGMET is a leading recycler of industrial products in North America, extracting, recycling and reselling heavy and precious metals and other industrial products. Dubbed their Recycle 100® philosophy, the manufacturer runs their operation with a zero tolerance policy for waste. Their commitment to producing virtually no by-product prevents the dumping of hazardous waste into landfills, making them a leading environmental steward and champion of health and safety. And now, their promise is extending to energy.

AGMET requires considerable amounts of energy to operate industrial-sized equipment like their 100-foot kiln, 40-foot pelletizer, hammer mill, shredder and blender. And with their two Ohio plants running nearly 24/7, it was imperative to consider energy use in their sustainability promise.

Going back more than 10 years, AGMET has powered their plants with a blend of electricity and natural gas supplied by Direct Energy Business. Their current fixed price energy plans enabled them to lock in low supply rates when the energy markets were favorable and keep the same rates through 2020. Such a strategy gives them budget certainty with energy costs. But for Plant Manager Bruce Harwedel, it was just as imperative to identify opportunities to use the energy they purchased smarter.

"We turned to Direct Energy Business and our representative John Leonard to help us pinpoint the how's, why's and where's of saving energy," explains Harwedel. After completing a thorough audit of AGMET's energy consumption, Direct Energy Business first pointed to a savings opportunity to upgrade lighting, guiding Harwedel through the process of selecting a contractor for the proposed improvements. When both plants were completely converted to LED lighting, AGMET saw their electricity bill cut nearly in half.

Next, Direct Energy Business introduced AGMET to a valuable tool that could give them visibility into the energy consumption of each piece of equipment. Panoramic Power® is a wireless energy monitoring technology that collects real-time data to help operations reduce inefficiencies and improve operations.

In January 2017, AGMET installed 80 Panoramic Power wireless sensors on the breaker panel of both recycling plants. Within minutes of completing the installation, the sensors began collecting and sending data to the cloud-based analytics platform, PowerRadar™, and energy consumption stats appeared on their dashboard. Harwedel and his team were eager to discover what visibility the new technology would permit.

"We saw many eye-opening things within the first few days of the installation," Harwedel recalled. "We saw spikes and changes in power when units were turned on or slowed down. We found that some equipment we thought was using less power was actually using more. We observed a lot of fluctuations in a three-phase electrical unit, which indicated that one phase was not functioning as it should. We saw indications that certain motors maybe weren't the best type of equipment for the job. It became clear to us that Panoramic Power is a very valuable solution to problems we had no idea we had."

The Panoramic Power team and AGMET analyzed the data, developing observations and insights that Harwedel and his team quickly began to turn into operational improvements.

"In the past, our industry had to use its ears, literally listening to sounds and changes in sounds to tell us when there's a problem," Harwedel explains. "Now with Panoramic Power, we can go even deeper to see what is actually happening inside the machine. And I can react to it right away."

With Panoramic Power, AGMET can see all power-consuming machinery in both plants and monitor whether it's functioning properly. These insights are saving time and enabling AGMET to respond to problems early, before valuable production time is lost or energy is wasted due to the inefficiency.

Between the LED lighting upgrades, insights from Panoramic Power, and a fixed low rate on energy for the next several years, Harwedel is pleased with the results and savings so far. Furthermore, he's already working with Direct Energy Business to add even more Panoramic Power sensors, and also hopes to explore opportunities to curtail energy consumption through a demand response program.

At least where sustainability is concerned – recycling, energy or otherwise – AGMET has the green light.


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