Automation supplier uses own technology to reduce energy costs

Oct. 3, 2006
To reduce often skyrocketing and always unpredictable energy costs, many small and medium-sized machine builders are seeking ways to make their processes and shop floors more efficient. They might want to take a page from Opto 22’s playbook. To reduce its $30,000 monthly peak pricing charges at its Southern California headquarters, the automation supplier recently deployed some of its own products to acquire data, closely monitor usage, and better manage  energy consumption. Besides implementing common-sense strategies such as turning off equipment when it’s not being used, Opto 22 also began to closely monitor its lighting, HVAC, and other equipment.

Opto 22 experimented with a one-third lighting scheme, and upgraded the building’s HVAC controls by replacing serial-based communication boards and analog I/O modules with its own Ethernet-based programmable controllers. Their ioProject software’s import utility converted the HVAC controls and HMI screen for use with Ethernet. This helped them investigate energy load changes before adjusting or replacing HVAC equipment.

As a result of these efforts, Opto 22 reduced daily electricity use to 575-650 kWh in July, and to 525-588 kWh in August, from averages of 660-871 kWh the year before. “Despite almost monthly double-digit price increases this year, we’ve been able to keep our overall bill at approximately the same level,” says Mark Engman, Opto 22’s COO.