Food Safety / Sustainability

The Case for High Benefit Lighting

February 1, 2011
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There’s a lot more to new lighting advancements than just saving money.

Senergy Solutions, a Southern California energy-efficient lighting solutions provider, replaced more than 110 existing 400W metal halide fixtures with Cooper fluorescent 6-lamp T5 high-bay fixtures fitted with integral occupancy sensors. The new lighting and control system reduces energy costs by about 46 percent providing a payback in just 14 months. Source: Cooper Lighting.


Shat-R-Shield lamps are UL-EPH® (Environmental and Public Health) classified, NSF certified and meet FDA, OSHA, ASME, CFIA (Canada Food Inspection Agency) and Mexico Department of Agriculture and Rural Development regulations. Source: Shat-R-Shield.

Lamps are like the eyes of a food manufacturing plant, and lamps and eyes have obvious connections. Lamps enable eyes to see and workers to work. Some lamps’ light output drops off faster than others, some shine more brightly, some make better use of energy. 

According to John Bachner, executive director of the National Lighting Bureau (NLB) in Washington, DC, the time to make lighting improvements in food plants and other manufacturing facilities is now. “Lighting in many industrial facilities is old, obsolete and inefficient, but today because of energy savings, global warming and financial incentives, there are good reasons to upgrade.” 

The opportunities are plentiful. National, state and local utility programs are offering companies attractive financial incentives to do away with old energy-inefficient fixtures such as T12 fluorescents and magnetic ballasts and replace them with newer, more energy-efficient fixtures using T8 and T5 lamps with electronic ballasts. It’s better for the environment, better for the bottom line and better for employees. “The thing to keep in mind when changing lamps and luminaires to ones that save energy  is to invest in a holistic design that will provide you with a much bigger bang for your upgrade dollars than just trying to reduce energy costs,” says Bachner.

He makes a compelling argument. The other big advantage of “High Benefit Lighting”-a trade-marked NLB coinage connoting lighting designed to optimize performance of the activities the lighting is used to illuminate-is the increase in productivity it can bring to an organization.  “You have to look at the visual tasks people are performing in the different parts of the business and create a lighting environment that enables each of them to do the best work they can-faster, and with fewer errors,” Bachner notes. “In the food business, take people who have to move blades around, which is fairly common. You better have good lighting that allows those people to see what they’re doing with crystal clarity, no shadows or dark areas, or the consequences could be serious.” Another consideration is spills. High Benefit Lighting will clearly illuminate where and how extensive a spill is.

Paramount supplied its S8 Series, 2’ x 2’ Surface Mount HID luminaires in a new installation for Normac Foods of Arden, NC. Source: Paramount Industries.

Does High Benefit Lighting pay? You bet. Consider a situation where it costs about $60/year to provide the lighting needed by a worker who earns $30K. Say a lighting company offers to replace lamps and luminaires with newer, more energy-efficient ones and is able to cut that lighting cost down to $30/year. If the lighting reduces that employee’s productivity by 1 percent, the company loses $270/year.  If the lighting helps the employee improve productivity by 1 percent, the company gains $330 over the year. Multiply that by all the employees in the plant, and the result is substantial. 

Lighting also has an effect on absenteeism and employee morale. “Poor light can result in headaches,” Bachner points out. “If you have glare from smudged windows or poorly placed lights that shine in workers’ eyes, it will strain eye muscles that try to compensate for the problem, or will cause employees to turn their heads, eventually straining neck muscles. In either case, the result is a headache that causes people to go home.” Poor lighting can also cause employees to compensate by adopting awkward body postures, potentially causing cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs) such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

Bottling equipment is illuminated with a retrofit EcoPower T5 adapter in the original T8 sanitary fixture by Sitka Enterprises. Two 8- ft. 90W lamps were replaced with a single T5 adaptor with two 4-ft. T5 54 watt lamps. Total power savings is 74 watts per fixture. Reusing the existing sanitary fixture minimizes the retrofit costs while maximizing energy savings. Source: Sitka Enterprises.

Out with the old, in with the new

Food manufacturers and other companies can take solid steps to improve the quality and efficiency of their lighting environments at modest cost. National Light Bureau President Howard Lewis says that on top of current financial incentives from state governments and rebates from local utilities, a comprehensive federal “cash-for-clunker-lighting” program already exists, but not enough lighting decision-makers are using it.

By qualifying for the Commercial Building Tax Deduction (details can be found on the Bureau’s www.nlb.org website), commercial lighting system owners can get a tax benefit of up to $0.60/square foot to offset the cost of a new lighting system installation or retrofit.

Using less energy has other important benefits, too, such as lower demand charges. These are based on the rate at which a manufacturing company consumes electricity. Higher consumption at any given time results in higher demand charges to compensate the utility for having to invest in more equipment to meet the customer’s maximum peak requirements. In some cases, these demand charges can equal or even exceed consumption charges.

An obvious change any company can make right now is to get rid of T12 systems. Mike Colotti, Osram Sylvania’s vice president for brand management and marketing communications, calls these “true dinosaurs.” Yet, there are an estimated 500 million of T12 lamps still in use.

He advises companies not to wait. July 1, 2010 marked an important watershed. On that date, it became illegal to manufacture or import many popular, conventional T12 magnetic replacement ballasts. And the Department of Energy will eliminate more of them as of July 14, 2012. “People need to get those T12 systems out of their buildings while incentives still are available to help offset their costs. Once we reach the point where T12 systems can’t be purchased or maintained-and we’ll be there soon-there’ll be no reason to incentivize owners to replace them. They’ll have no choice.”

Colotti estimates owners are spending in the neighborhood of $8 billion a year to operate the 500 million T12 lamps still out there. By switching to T8s, they would save about half-48.8 percent. “And that includes no allowance for a wide range of control-related energy-saving techniques such as occupancy sensing, dimming and daylight harvesting,” he notes.

There’s also an important environmental aspect. According to the NLB, T12 lighting accounts for some 3.6 tons of mercury leaching into our environment each year. Going to T8s would cut mercury use by 43 percent and reduce utility carbon emissions by 24 million tons per year.  “Some say it’s irresponsible to keep T12 lighting in place, and I would be hard-pressed to disagree,” adds Lewis.

Going to smaller-diameter and more efficient T5 lamps is a further option. T5s have been around for about a decade, T8s were introduced in 1981, and T12s way back in 1938. One T5 can replace two T12s. Compared to T8s, a T5 can cut mercury infiltration by 56 percent and CO2 emissions by a further 12 percent.

Cooper Lighting replaced existing 400W metal halide fixtures with energy-efficient Metalux T5 F-Bay 4-lamp and 6-lamp fixtures for Buena Pak Cold Storage in Buena Park, CA, in cooler 1 & 2, tower and dock, and battery areas of the facility. Source: Cooper Lighting.

Options aplenty

Many companies today provide the latest in energy-efficient, eco-friendly lighting systems along with professional design consultation.

One of them is Sitka Enterprises Inc. of East Texas, PA. Brian Roy, Sitka’s president, says much of his business these days is in replacing high-intensity discharge (HID) lighting with more efficient fluorescent systems. “HID is a very typical type of lighting you find in large industrial spaces, such as food plants, and it still has an important role. But as a lighting type, it’s inefficient in terms of watts per unit of output.” Roy also notes that apart from taking more energy, light output performance drop-off over time is more rapid with HID lamps than it is with fluorescent or LED counterparts, which his company also specializes in.

Despite the relatively higher cost of LED lighting, Roy says because of its long lifetime (30,000-100,000 hours), it provides the lowest cost per unit of light. Second is fluorescent (20,000- 30,000 hours), and third is HID (10,000-20,000 hours). Because of their higher upfront cost, LEDs are not mainstream-yet-but their time will come as lamp costs continue to decrease. 

According to Roy, food appeals more to the eye when lit by the natural daylight look of LEDs.  This helps at all levels of the food industry-grocery, food service and manufacturing, where they’re a particularly good choice for assembly and inspection areas. “Another benefit is to use them in loading areas, because unlike other lamps, they don’t emit UV radiation, so they don’t attract bugs,” he says. 

On the fluorescent side, the company’s Ecotube T5 series has a life of 20,000 hours (2.3 years at 24 hours/day, seven days per week). It uses 40 percent less glass and 80 percent less mercury than competing fluorescents, and through the use of the adaptors, it can be installed quickly and easily into existing fixtures, saving time and labor costs.

Shat-R-Shield of Salisbury, NC was founded in 1976 and is the original manufacturer of shatter-resistant lamps. The company uses several types of clear plastics to safety-coat its lighting products. If a Shat-R-Shield fluorescent lamp accidentally breaks, virtually all hazardous materials like glass fragments, phosphors and mercury will be safely contained inside the skin-tight plastic coating. Risk for employees, customers and equipment is greatly reduced. 

Shat-R-Shield also manufactures safety-coated incandescent and compact fluorescent lamps along with metal halide and high-pressure sodium HIDs. One of the company’s newest products is its energy-saving 49W T5 HO fluorescent lamp. According to Marketing Manager Bill Hahn, “The T5 HO is a much thinner lamp, but provides a great deal of light per watt. It’s proving popular in retrofitting projects especially in facilities with high- and medium-bay lighting systems.”

Holophane installed a Vantage system consisting of 400W metal halide lamps for Basic American Foods, a 500,000-sq.-ft. dehydrated potato processing plant in Shelley, ID. Source: Holophane.

Holophane, a company located in Granville, OH, has been a key player in the lighting industry for over a century. All its luminaires designed for the food manufacturing market are made of high-temperature acrylic. It’s a robust, transparent material used to properly shield the light source while providing maximum protection for the environment. The enclosures are fully washdown rated and designed for maximum hygiene. The high-temperature acrylic addresses the glass safety issue, while its highly engineered optical designs create angles for a wide range of dispersion requirements.

Tamar Williamson, Holophane’s product manager for indoor markets, says the company’s newest offering is its Petrolux III line. Its hazardous rating makes it ideal for demanding applications such as flour and grain mills. “We introduced Petrolux III last year for multiple lamp sources such as induction and compact fluorescents, and we’re planning to launch additional sources, such as linear fluorescents in the coming months.”

Meanwhile, the company’s Vantage line of fluorescent and HID lamps accounts for 95 percent of what it sells to the food industry and is also hazardous rated. Basic American Foods, a 500,000-sq.-ft. dehydrated potato processing plant in Shelley, ID installed a Vantage system featuring 400W metal halide lamps in its granule line and upper preparation area. It replaced a 4-ft. fluorescent system that tended to create a dim, drab environment.

“We specified the metal halide lamps because the white light provides better color rendition,” says Basic American Foods Electrical Project Manager Rick Lake. “Operators are constantly looking at the potato products as they transition through the various stages of processing. The white light helps them better identify any defects.”

Steve Guarracino is the Metalux industrial marketing manager for Cooper Lighting, headquartered in Peachtree City, GA. According to Guarracino, Cooper Lighting customers have increasingly been replacing older HID fixtures with multi-lamp T8 and T5 systems, including Cooper’s line of Metalux F-Bay products. “Much of the impetus behind this retrofit activity is the rebate dollars offered by energy providers to lighting system owners-up to $80 per fixture,” he notes. Perhaps most importantly, the energy savings of the multi-lamp systems are substantial. “A typical 400W HID unit consumes 452 watts, depending on the type of ballast, while a T8 producing almost the same amount of light consumes only 222 input watts-less than half that of the HID.”

Another advantage of the new fluorescent systems is their capability to dim not only in stages, but also continuously, compared to HID systems with magnetic ballasts, which can’t dim easily.  While it’s possible to reduce power to an HID system through a control system, it doesn’t operate instantaneously, and the lamps have to cool before they’re restruck. Fluorescent systems, Cooper’s included, can be fitted with motion sensors so they can automatically turn themselves off when no one’s around. It’s also possible to fit them with daylight harvesting sensors so they adjust their performance to changing amounts of light coming in through the windows, much like the iris of the eye. Utilizing these types of controls can produce even greater energy savings from the lighting system.

Cooper’s Metalux VT4 fluorescent fixtures carry a 1500psi rating for applications requiring hose downs, and they work well in both ambient and cold storage environments. 

Despite the high degree of retrofitting currently being seen, Guarracino says HID is not likely to become obsolete in the near future. “The market has shrunk, but there are still many good reasons to use this type of light source,” he says. “It still serves its purpose as a point source that can add sparkle and brightness to certain environments.”

Cooper Lighting has an LED product offering as well, and this is where Guarracino sees real opportunities. “There are some challenges with spreading lumens with LEDs, but this can be addressed optically. In addition, there are still issues with LEDs producing the same amount of lumens as a multi-lamp fluorescent system in a cost-effective manner. Fluorescents have a very good story, but the gap between them and LEDs is closing.”

Paramount Industries is a family-owned lighting manufacturer employing 40-plus people in Croswell, MI. Paramount has a wide offering of NSF-certified products suitable for food environments, such as the Craft Lite Series, the Techniseal Troffer and HID Series. Since 1947, Paramount has supplied sealed and gasketed lighting products for applications all over the world and is noted for its custom capabilities.

Meanwhile, Osram Sylvania (OSI) in Danvers, MA specializes in lamps and ballasts, as well as control systems. In addition, OSI has a subsidiary, Sylvania Lighting Services (SLS) that specializes in providing energy-efficient lighting solutions. One of SLS’s projects was retrofitting Kikkoman Foods’ soy plant in Walworth, WI. Kikkoman wanted to upgrade its lighting system, for both financial and environmental reasons, to provide greater energy efficiency, lower maintenance and better overall quality. SLS replaced Kikkoman’s 400W metal halide and T12 linear fluorescent lamps with 3,000 PENTRON® T5 and ECOLOGIC® T8 linear fluorescent lamps and high-efficiency QUICKTRONIC® electronic fluorescent ballasts.

The plant reduced its annual energy load from 2.74 million kWh to 1.51, saving over $97,000 per year. The longer-life lamps saved an additional $10,000 in maintenance, and reduced SO2 and CO2 emissions by 8,248 lbs. and 2.3 million lbs., respectively-equivalent to taking 131 cars off the road. Further, Kikkoman received over $67,000 in rebates.

“We wanted to do something that would offer us not only financial benefits, but would also allow us to help defend and protect the environment from needless waste,” said Jere Marheine, electrical engineering supervisor at Kikkoman. “Using Sylvania’s Ecologic line of T5 and T8 linear fluorescent lamps was a fantastic way of turning our vision into a reality.”

Controls are an important part of maximizing the energy savings provided by the many new lamps and ballasts that are now available, according to Sylvania’s Manager of Energy Relations Susan Anderson. “Photo sensors paired with dimming ballasts can turn down the lights near a window or skylight when it’s sunny outside, and back up if it gets cloudy or dark,” she says. “Occupancy sensors turn lights off when people leave, and back on when they return. Occupancy sensors that turn off automatically, but back on manually have proven to save even more energy, because they require someone to make a conscious decision to flick the switch back on.” Other energy-saving options include lighting control panels, plug load controls and whole-building management systems.

High Benefit Lighting is becoming more sophisticated. And the more sophisticated it becomes the more energy-and money-lighting system owners will be able to save. Saving money is important, as is minimizing our footprint on the planet. But the fundamental thing is why we have lighting in the first place-to make workers more satisfied and comfortable in their jobs, and their work more safe, accurate and productive.

For more information:
John Bachner; National Lighting Bureau; info@nlb.org; 301-587-9572
Brian Roy; Sitka Enterprises; brianroy@sitkaenterprises.com; 610-393-6708
Bill Hahn; Shat-R-Shield; bhahn@shatrshield.com; 704-216-2210
Steve Guarracino; Cooper Lighting; steve.guarracino@cooperindustries.com; 770-486-4105 
Tamar Williamson; Holophane; tamar.williamson@acuitybrands.com; 740-349-4241
Nathan Benavides; Paramount Industries Inc.; nbenavides@paramountlighting.com;
Angie Smiley; Paramount Industries Inc.; asmiley@paramountlighting.com; 810-679-2551
Susan Anderson; Osram Sylvania; susan.anderson@sylvania.com; 978-750-2864

For a complete list of lubricants suppliers, see the Food Master.

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