Glass company shines with $16,000 savings, new lights

Andrew Davidson, Garibaldi's process improvement leader

If the whole point of your product is to let light shine through, you can't manufacture in the gloom. So when Garibaldi Glass designed a new production facility for its 45-year-old custom glass operation, upgrading lighting was high on the list.

Burnaby-based Garibaldi Glass manufactures architectural glass for applications ranging from high rises to private bathrooms. They worked with BC Hydro's Power Smart New Plant Design initiative to design their new facility, ensuring the plant would be energy efficient.

"Lighting was a big problem in our old facility," says Andrew Davidson, Garibaldi's process improvement leader. "It was very dark, and it's very hard to spot any defects on glass without proper lighting, so we wanted to get a lot brighter."

New lamps, sensors and timers improve efficiency

The 160,000 square foot facility includes both office and production areas for more than 100 employees. To improve energy efficiency, the production area was divided into ten zones that can be lit individually (some areas are used 24 hours a day; others operate only one shift daily). In the office, occupancy sensors and timers keep lights off when they're not needed. Davidson says the key change, however, was the type of lighting. The old plant used metal halide lamps, while the new one uses energy-efficient T-5 high bay fluorescents.

"It's been fantastic; there are a lot less shadows which is good, and all the trip hazards are much better lit," says Davidson. "Maintenance-wise, the new lights are better; they don't degrade as quickly so we don't have to change them so often. Another big bonus is that the old lights took about a half hour to warm up, and the new ones go on and off quickly. It's night and day, the level of lighting we're able to achieve."

Better quality control and $16,000 in savings

The new lighting is saving Garibaldi 248,000 kWh of electricity annually, or about $16,000. Davidson suspects it is saving money by improving quality control processes as well.

"In our last plant typically we would do a final full inspection under bright light and we would catch defects then. Here, I'm speculating that we are catching defects at an earlier stage in the process, because the lighting is that good everywhere in the plant.

It costs us a lot of money if we can't inspect things properly, so this makes a difference."

To improve efficiency in the future, Davidson says the company would like to upgrade its electric tempering furnace, which accounts for more than half the plant's electricity consumption.

Meanwhile, he says anyone planning to redesign their production facility should check out the New Plant Design initiative early in the process before making any final design decisions.

"I liked the program, it was easy to deal with and helpful," he says. "And the quality of the lighting we have here now has been a big improvement."