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Belinda Jones


Automated Demand Response Solution

Demand response events are almost invisible to Hexagon Metrology —sensitive manufacturing continues ahead uninterrupted

Published: Friday, January 23, 2009 - 10:41

As energy prices continue to soar and the public—with increased awareness and concern for the environment—continue to demand environmental accountability from manufacturers, companies are looking long and hard at ways to decrease their influence on the environment. But there are competing goals. On one hand, there’s social and environmental accountability, on the other there are cost and quality issues associated with managing energy consumption.

By teaming with EnerNoc, a company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, that helps institutional and industrial organizations use energy more intelligently, one large equipment manufacturer is reaping the benefits of both worlds.

As a precision manufacturer with worldwide reach and a reputation for quality, Hexagon Metrology Inc. is focused on maximizing efficiency and cost-effectiveness—while being a solid corporate citizen. Hexagon Metrology is the North American-based manufacturing, sales, service, and distribution arm for The Hexagon Metrology Group, a large manufacturer of precision coordinate measuring systems. The company focuses on manufacturing, sales, service, and distribution of microprecision measuring products under the Brown & Sharpe and TESA brands. Its facility includes high-technology manufacturing and assembly, as well as office and warehouse space—with more than 250 employees working around-the-clock.

Hexagon has received all of the major quality, environmental, and workplace certifications—ISO 9001, ISO 14001, and ISO 18001. In 2008, it began exploring the potential of EnerNOC’s Demand Response (DR) Network solution to reduce energy consumption while protecting the environment and supporting its local community.

Currently, it combines lighting and HVAC reductions and back-up power generation to reduce energy consumption by 120 kW during potential grid emergencies. Hexagon Metrology can receive potential payments of approximately $15,000 a year for its participation in DR. These funds are used to pay for new projects that reduce energy use.

A precision approach to demand response

What is demand response?
Demand response programs from EnerNOC provide payments directly to organizations that choose to voluntarily curtail energy use during times of peak demand. EnerNOC works closely with its customers to define customized curtailment strategies and ensure successful performance during events. EnerNOC absorbs all costs and protects customers from any penalties that can be incurred for not meeting curtailment targets. The DR programs help increase energy capacity without requiring construction of new power plants—benefiting utility companies, their customers, and the environment.

Hexagon’s customers—including major U.S. automobile, aircraft, defense manufacturers, and other high-technology firms—rely on the company’s machines to provide exceptionally precise measurements. The company cannot do anything that might jeopardize the quality of its manufacturing processes. However, its leaders are also committed to reducing the company’s effect on the environment, and to adjusting its processes to meet the dual needs of high product quality and low environmental effect.

“Before we began talking to EnerNOC about demand response, we were already actively working to reduce our carbon footprint and be as environmentally friendly as possible,” recalls John Mycroft, facilities, environmental, health, and safety manager at Hexagon Metrology. “We were very involved in meeting and exceeding standards, and staying at the forefront of innovation and efficiency.”

In 2006, Hexagon moved to its current facility in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, a 112,000-square-foot industrial space custom-designed for its needs. This move saved the company more than $500,000 in annual energy-related costs. Once that facility’s personnel were on site, they began looking for other opportunities to reduce energy use and save money. Even after our move to a new facility, our electrical bill was still more than $375,000 a year,” says Mycroft. “So we were very open to EnerNOC’s demand response story. Everyone here, from the manufacturing staff to our executives, was behind the idea of reducing energy, getting paid for it, enhancing the environment, and protecting our community. It seemed like an obvious win-win for us.”

However, the company needed to protect a key area of its manufacturing facility, a 10,000 square-foot temperature-controlled calibration room where its highly accurate measurement devices are calibrated under exact temperatures and conditions. The temperature in this area is held to a tolerance of ±0.5°C. No environmental program—no matter how attractive—could jeopardize the precision control over this room. “It’s the backbone of our business,” says Mycroft. “Our customers expect us to calibrate our machines under precise tolerances. And we’re committed to ensuring maximum quality and precision.”

The results
Hexagon Metrology receives e-mail and phone notification of impending events and tests. Once the notification is accepted, EnerNOC then automatically makes adjustments via the company’s building management system (BMS).

During an event or test procedure:
•   Approximately 50 percent of the facility’s lighting is turned off.
•   Temperature set points in office areas are raised automatically from 72°F to 76°F.
•   Five of 10 rooftop heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units are shut off. Hexagon personnel also manually shut off lights wherever possible in office areas.
•   EnerNOC automatically starts a back-up generator, which is used to provide the sensitive calibration area with an uninterrupted energy supply.

This strategy creates more than 120 kW of energy reduction—50 percent from the heating/lighting adjustments and 50 percent from use of back-up power generation. “Most of our employees don’t even see the changes, they’re almost invisible,” says Mycroft. “The transfer to back-up generation is seamless, and the lighting changes are virtually unnoticeable.”

At the end of an event, EnerNOC returns the BMS settings to their previous levels, switches the back-up generator off, and operation goes back to normal—all without much effort by Hexagon Metrology staff. “During an event, we have very little to do with the DR process,” says Mycroft. “Ninety-nine percent of the process is automated, which makes it incredibly easy for us to participate.”

For its participation in the emergency DR program, Hexagon Metrology receives approximately $15,000 a year in payments from EnerNOC. “In addition to these payments, we also use EnerNOC’s free PowerTrak energy monitoring to help reduce our energy use by another $100,000 a year,” says Mycroft. “By being more aware of our energy use, we can make better-informed decisions about our facility’s energy use, which leads to energy reductions and money savings.”

The benefits
EnerNOC DR enables Hexagon Metrology to ensure the integrity of its temperature-controlled calibration room—and the quality of product. This part of the facility is protected from changes due to the seamless back-up power generation. With EnerNOC DR, Hexagon Metrology gets the flexibility to control the areas of the company that are affected.

Other key benefits that EnerNOC DR brings to Hexagon Metrology include:
•   Automation. During DR events or testing, EnerNOC automatically starts Hexagon’s back-up generators and makes changes to the lighting and heating/cooling system. This automation takes much of the manual work out of participating in DR. “Within a few minutes, EnerNOC makes the changes,” says Mycroft. “We just continue working.” This automated adjustment enables Hexagon Metrology to continue with production, leaving the DR details to EnerNOC. After an event, EnerNOC returns Hexagon Metrology’s BMS settings to normal.

   Control. With EnerNOC controlling all of the adjustments during DR, Hexagon Metrology can be confident that their sensitive facilities, such as the calibration area, will operate without any variations in temperature. EnerNOC carefully monitors the Hexagon Metrology facility to ensure that all DR events go smoothly.

   Advanced monitoring. With EnerNOC DR, Hexagon Metrology receives free access to EnerNOC’s PowerTrak software, which monitors energy use at its facilities. This information helps the company keep a close eye on its energy use on an ongoing basis. “In the past, we used to just get a monthly bill. Now we can monitor usage in near real-time, making changes, and tweaking our energy use to raise energy-efficiency.” In all, Hexagon Metrology estimates that they have saved more than $100,000 annually by making new adjustments to their facilities—all aided and informed by PowerTrak.

•   Community support. “EnerNOC’s demand response is good business for us, and good for our community,” says Mycroft. “It helps protect everyone from brown-outs and black-outs. It’s easy to do and we get paid for it. It’s a simple way to be a good citizen of our community, and we’re very proud to be a part of it.” Mycroft is spreading the word about DR through his local chamber of commerce, inspiring manufacturers of all sizes to make DR part of their company’s energy plans.

The future
Hexagon Metrology continues to look for new ways to boost its curtailment figures during actual DR events. It’s pursuing a wide range of other energy-related projects, from Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification to inspiring others in their community to enroll in EnerNOC DR. Looking beyond Rhode Island, the company hopes to enroll its other facilities in EnerNOC DR programs. “Every manufacturer should be a part of demand response,” concludes Mycroft. “Now that companies have such a strong interest in going green, it really makes sense—economically and environmentally.”



About The Author

Belinda Jones’s picture

Belinda Jones

Belinda Jones is the founder and owner of HiTech Marketing LLC, in Westbrook, Connecticut. For more than a decade, Jones has written articles and commentaries about manufacturing, engineering, quality assurance, CAD/CAM/CAE applications, and other high-tech topics. She has extensive experience in marketing communications, technical sales, and applications engineering. Before joining the computer industry, she was a broadcast copywriter for four years. Jones holds degrees in fine arts and mechanical engineering, and studied cultural arts in Europe.