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The employees of the A. O. Smith water heater plant in Veldhoven, the Netherlands, were recognized as the recipients of the A. O. Smith Chairman’s Green Star Award for resource conservation.
A multiple-year program to upgrade the efficiency of lighting and central heating throughout the facility was instrumental in helping the plant earn the award. Veldhoven is the first plant outside the U.S. to receive the award.
Veldhoven Chairmans Green Star Award A. O. Smith Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Ajita G. Rajendra presented the 85 employees with the award at a special ceremony last week. “What stood out when we reviewed your nomination is the comprehensive effort that took place throughout the plant,” he noted. “This wasn’t just the result of one initiative or one group of people working on a project; it was a total team effort over a two-year period with a singular focus of making Veldhoven a more efficient, more sustainable operation.”
“Overall, we have taken a number of serious steps to reduce energy cost, reduce emissions, improve operational reliability, and deliver better working conditions to our employees,” Ton van der Hamsvoort, general manager of the Veldhoven operation, pointed out in the nomination.
A. O. Smith created the Chairman’s Green Star Award in 2009 to encourage natural resource conservation efforts throughout the company. The award is earned by the plant that achieves the most year-over-year reductions in natural gas consumption, electricity usage, and water consumption. A total of 18 facilities worldwide competed to receive this year’s award.
Veldhoven ranked first in the category of electricity consumption, the result of a major overhaul and upgrade of the plant’s lighting system. In addition to high-efficiency lighting fixtures, the team installed motion sensors and daylight sensors throughout the plant.
“The new lighting fixtures require 30 percent less power input with the same luminous efficiency,” Wiljan Thielen, manager-production and material handling, pointed out. “We achieved another 20 percent energy reduction through reduced power consumption during start-up, and the use of the movement sensors and daylight dependent control sensors.”
The team also installed new central heating equipment along with a building management system, improvements that helped reduce natural gas consumption 35 percent. The central heating system is comprised of four high-efficiency condensing A. O. Smith boilers that replaced a single, older boiler.
A team made up of Thielen, van der Hamsvoort, Product Manager Luc van Gemert, Product Manager Ger Helmes, Engineering Manager Herman Michiels, and Production Supervisor Michaël van der Donk designed the building management system (BMS). The system enables the staff to maintain more consistent temperatures in the plant during winter and summer while ensuring the boilers run in the high-efficiency condensing mode. Employees can access the BMS via the internet to view the status and make any adjustments.
New, high-efficiency windows throughout the building, increased insulation, and sun screens also contributed to the reduced natural gas and electricity consumption.
The team also upgraded the scheduling function for heating the stand-alone tank fabrication plant. The new system not only controls the facility’s heating system, it also schedules the start-up time for equipment such as the furnace and degreaser. The improved system has reduced energy consumption in the tank plant by 60 percent.
The 105,000 square foot Veldhoven plant manufactures residential and commercial gas and electric water heaters, solar water heating systems, storage tanks, indirect tanks, and commercial and residential heat pumps. It serves the European and Middle Eastern markets.