Green Movement Strong in Maryland’s Manufacturing Sector
While casinos, biotech, and cyber security get all the love from the media, it’s manufacturing that is actually touching our lives every day in every way imaginable. The significance of the manufacturing sector in Maryland is often not well appreciated. We rely on so many products that are produced across the state that impact our daily lives.
Here are just a few ways “Maryland Made” improves quality of life for you. As we wake up, brush our teeth, and use various hair products emerging from the shower, we can thank our good friends at Unilever, Procter & Gamble and C-Care for many of those products manufactured right here in Maryland. As we look to grab our breakfast in the morning or snacks during the day, we may look to Nestle, Frito-Lay, Tolkoff Foods or McCormick to provide us with nourishment.
As we get ready to drive to work, we may get in our GM hybrid vehicle that may have Murray clamps fastening the hoses to various engine parts under the hood. If we’re driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, we can thank Chesapeake Specialty Products for its steel abrasives technology to help keep rust off the bridge and give us peace of mind.
As we look out over the Chesapeake Bay, we can thank Ellicott Dredges for improving dredging practices to keep shipping lanes open. Or, if we’re getting on a plane to fly to a business meeting, we can thank our friends at Smiths Detection for providing the security machines that help keep us safe as we go through the security lines and reach our final destinations.
Besides being central to our daily lives, Maryland manufacturers have several things in common: they are lean, they are increasingly globally competitive and they are increasingly green.
While only comprising 5 percent of Maryland’s economy, Maryland manufacturers use about 12 percent of the State’s energy consumption. As industry reduces those energy costs, the firms can free up monies to use more wisely to help grow their business. More and more manufacturers are accessing the Regional Manufacturing Institute’s (RMI) energy efficiency program to reduce their energy costs.
Over 38 Maryland manufacturers, including all mentioned in this article, have enrolled in RMI’s program to date, and these companies are now creating a whole new revenue stream from their energy savings.
Manufacturers interested in joining RMI’s Energy Program should visit the RMI Energy Solutions website, www.rmienergysolutions.com, to see how other companies have benefited or contact RMI’s Program Manager Peter Gourlay at 443-275-2489 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RMI’s program provides a well-tested, quick pay-off opportunity for the companies and brings over $30,000 of expert consulting services to analyze how manufacturers might use their energy more efficiently with minimum upfront investment. RMI produces a detailed energy audit with recommendations for changes and access to rebates and low cost loans, all at no cost.
The State came to RMI several years ago because they were not having a lot of success in getting the manufacturing sector to reduce energy. What then unfolded was a partnership between the Maryland Energy Administration and RMI to address the need. They jointly applied for and received a $3 million grant from the state to carry out the energy efficiency program.
One of the first participants, Green Bay Packaging, realized a big, measurable net result 18 months after starting RMI’s program. As they grew their business and production by over 20 percent, they actually managed to reduce their kilowatt-hour consumption by 1 percent.
“The RMI program helped us realize opportunities for savings (kilowatt-hours and dollars), provided us with unbiased and expert support in planning and implementation, and ultimately helped us execute the initiatives,” says Tyson Aschliman, General Manager of Green Bay Packaging in Hunt Valley.
“This is an environmental and business accomplishment that we would have never achieved without the help of RMI,” says Aschliman.
Tenax recently joined the RMI Program and as a result of the six-month engagement, the company is undertaking a large-scale energy reduction project, using the State’s Lawton Loan program that provides a 2 percent loan over 10 years, which will reduce kilowatt-hours by 500,000 and save them nearly $100,000 annually. These projects include major upgrades in lighting; heating and cooling and building insulation; the introduction of additional metering and monitoring; and various other repairs and improvements to systems and equipment such as air compressors.
“We know we spend a lot on energy and we were looking for ways to cut back on cost,” says Steve Petrides, President of Tenax. Last year, Tenax spent more than $400,000 annually on energy.
The best news is that the project will hardly cost them a cent as the savings from the upgrades will pay back the loan.
Another aspect of the RMI program is to engage employees at the companies, so that they become vested in valuing energy efficiency. RMI provides organizational development specialists to help companies change their culture. These change agents encourage companies to adopt energy awareness campaigns and develop teams that practice ways to curtail energy consumption through “Green Teams.”
For example, Jim Hall, president of Maryland Thermoform, describes their culture change: “Getting our employees involved with the Green Teams was actually easier that I thought it would be. We know our machines consume about 50 percent of monthly energy bills. We can’t stop production, but as a result of the initiative, we’re looking at different ways to start shifts, doing staggering to reduce peak load, and hopefully offset monthly costs.”
Maryland Thermoform is also looking at different ways to turn off and turn on the machines, so they’re not using a lot of energy to reheat, or not use energy, when it’s unnecessary.
Saving energy is both good for the environment and its good for Maryland manufacturing productivity and growth. It’s really a win-win. I95