In manufacturing, operating costs can stack up quickly, significantly affecting the bottom line. Many times, simple solutions to cut operating costs are overlooked because operators are simply not aware of cost-effective measures that have noticeable effect on daily operations and expenses. One of those simple solutions is lighting.

Typically, lighting is the last line item on the budget operators worry about or assess. Many companies feel as though they have no control of their energy costs; it’s just an item on the budget that has to be paid, no matter what the cost. Such costs can result in millions of dollars of lost revenue each year.

Older facilities were not designed with lighting efficiency in mind. The vast majority of manufacturing plants are wasting more than half of their energy every year. In fact, even lights installed five years ago use twice the energy as efficient lights available today. Most older-type lights produce 30 percent less light after just one year and continue to dim until they die. Manufacturers continue to pay the full light bill for less than half the light. And to add insult to injury, poorly lit work areas can be unsafe and less productive, costing a company even more.

The fact is that most manufacturing companies can cut lighting costs by 40 to 60 percent each year and have better lighting by switching to energy-efficient lights. On top of the savings and improved work environment, companies can capitalize further by taking advantage of EPACT 2005, a federal tax deduction for energy efficiency that applies to lighting upgrades.

But deciding to take a look at lighting is only the first step in an important process. Many lighting companies and suppliers sell lights. The challenge is that every facility is different and each has distinct needs and uses for lighting. Therefore, sifting through hundreds of available lighting products to find the right solution for each facility can be time-consuming at best.

The easiest solution is one that is turn-key. If you are considering upgrading lighting, make sure to choose a supplier that provides the following:

1) EPACT federal tax deduction will offset 25 percent of upgrade cost. Turn-key suppliers provide proper design so the upgrades qualify for the deduction, and also complete all of the paperwork for the deduction, eliminating confusing red tape associated with tax deductions.

2) Custom design includes installing the best fixtures for each application, utilizing motion sensors to reduce light levels in low-traffic areas of facilities such as warehouses, and on-off control to eliminate wasted energy when areas of a facility are unoccupied.

3) Available financing. Energy-efficient lighting upgrades generally provide a return on investment within two years of implementation, but most companies still choose to finance them from the energy savings. Turn-key lighting companies offer financing as part of their services, making it possible for companies to implement and realize cost savings now without any money out of pocket.

This article was provided by Energy Management Systems. EMS is an Indiana company helping companies throughout the country to reduce energy consumption and cut energy costs. EMS offers energy usage assessments and provides solutions to reduce wasted energy and unnecessary costs. For more information, visit www.energymanagement.com or call 317-341-5968.