The lighting needs at the 460,000-square foot headquarters facility of Maines Paper and Food Service, Inc., a food distributor serving customers in 35 states, were recently re-evaulated. Like any large warehouse with 24x7 operations, this Conklin, NY facility bustles with activity across all shifts. Forklift operators zip back and forth through both ambient space and cold storage environments, which range from 70°F dry storage areas to 40°F refrigerated spaces to -20°F ice cream freezers. They rely on proper lighting to ensure safety and performance and until recently, the facility was illuminated with hundreds of 400W high-intensity discharge (HID) fixtures — a decade-old solution that resulted in under-lit spaces and poor-quality light.

Evaluating the Options

Inside the Maines facility, the Intelligent Lighting System provides high-intensity illumination when and where needed, using only 160W when fully illuminated.

The facilities team considered fluorescent fixtures as a possible solution in both cold and dry spaces. However, to achieve desired light levels, they would need to install 8-lamp high-intensity fluorescents (HIF) at 300W each, which quickly eroded the potential energy savings and, as a mercury-based light source, created hazardous waste issues and costs. There were also significant concerns surrounding fluorescent fixture performance in a cold environment.

The Right Solution for Demanding Industrial Applications

Light Meter Reading. The Intelligent Lighting System achieves 20.04 footcandles of illumination at the aisle task level.

The management team then evaluated a new class of highly efficient LED-based lighting solution from Digital Lumens, the Intelligent Lighting System. Designed specifically for demanding industrial applications, the Intelligent Lighting Systems are comprised of Intelligent Light Engines, which form a Smart Light Grid, and LightRules software.

Intelligent Light Engine.

Intelligent Light Engines (ILEs) are high-performance, LED-based luminaires featuring three independently aimable light bars. Each ILE has integrated controls, an integrated occupancy sensor, a kWh ‘odometer’ that keeps track of power use, and wireless mesh networking capabilities — giving it the intelligence to optimize energy efficiency locally and system-wide. Intended as one-for-one replacements of 400W HID, high pressure sodium (HPS), and T5 or T8 fluorescent fixtures in racked storage or open-space environments, ILEs are available in high bay and mid bay versions.

The ILEs form a Smart Light Grid — a lighting network — that enables the system to intelligently optimize energy efficiency on a system-wide basis. This lighting network provides bi-directional communication between the fixtures and LightRules management software for configuration of the light behavior and data collection. Because the fixtures are able to communicate with each other, they can respond to a neighboring fixture’s state and/or system-wide programming, and provide usage, occupancy, and maintenance information in return.

Data gathered at 15-minute intervals from a 400W HID fixture, a 300W fluorescent alternative, and the Digital Lumens system shows cumulative energy use in a 24-hour period. The Digital Lumens fixture enters a true ‘standby’ mode — and consumes zero power — whenever an aisle or work area is vacant and uses only 1.2 kWh/day. The HID fixture must remain ON to ensure immediate light delivery (11.96 kWh/day). The fluorescent consumes 6.98 kWh/day in standby mode.

Featuring an easy-to-use web interface, LightRules software enables lighting to be treated as a managed resource, controlling operating hours and energy use, and providing informative daily reports. Facility managers can evaluate the lighting program, provide measurement and verification data to their utility, and determine what modifications are needed to ensure optimal energy usage.

A Bright Future for Energy Savings

Following a pilot installation, which included carefully evaluating the system in both dry and cold environments, the Maines team decided to retrofit its 400W HID fixtures with the Digital Lumens solution. Installed as one-for-one replacements for existing high bay fixtures, the Intelligent Lighting System required little or no maintenance or re-lamping and provided the Maines team with the data they required to document energy use and improve performance over time.

Since deployment, the Intelligent Lighting System has dramatically increased light levels for facility staff, while driving down energy usage by a documented 87%. Maines expects to save 1,726,108 kWh and eliminate 1,240 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year — equivalent to removing 200 homes per year from the grid.