An interesting challenge presented itself for Alexandria Extrusion Company (AEC) – how to make its Alexandria, Minn., manufacturing facility (known as "one of the brightest facilities in the industry") more energy efficient when it comes to lighting? The answer: work with the U.S. Department of Energy's Save Energy Now initiative.

Lighting has always been a unique aspect of AEC's production areas. The importance of detail in the aluminum extrusion industry drives the need for great lighting. Accordingly, energy-efficient lighting recommendations that were made during an Energy Savings Assessment (ESA) from the University of Alabama Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) caused some concern at first. However, after evaluating the brightness levels the new lights would provide, the decision to move ahead with the changes was apparent.

Conversion to the energy efficient lighting was quick and relatively easy, according to AEC director of operations Brad Hoven. AEC was able to maintain the same level of brightness in its factory that it had with its previous lighting system, and the return on investment will be realized in a relatively short period of time, with long-term energy savings following. The conversion to energy efficient lighting resulted in a substantial rebate from Alexandria Light & Power as part of its Bright Energy Solutions cash-incentive program. The estimated energy savings are more than 1.3 million kilowatt hours (kWh) and 154 kilowatts of demand, providing an estimated cost savings of more than $70,000 per year.

AEC continued to work with the IAC to review efficiency opportunities throughout the facility, including the extrusion presses and precision machining areas, along with other areas including the shipping and handling areas where its customers' precision custom extrusions are packaged for delivery. The IAC was able to make additional improvement suggestions following the additional ESAs, but these recommendations were mostly minor because AEC was deemed to have the correct processes, equipment, and programs already in place, proving that the company has taken improving its energy efficiency quite seriously.