For more than 60 years, Carris Reels, Inc. has produced a variety of wooden, plastic, and metal reels for the wire and cable industry. Headquartered in central Vermont, Carris has nine manufacturing plants in the United States, Canada and Mexico, and combined with eight assembly/warehouse locations, generates annual sales of approximately $95 million. In addition to housing its headquarters, Rutland is home to three of their manufacturing facilities which produce plywood, plastic, and stamped metal reels. They became 100% employee owned in 2008 and now have 180 employees in Vermont and over 450 nationwide.
Carris uses large amounts of compressed air to make reels and spools. Knowing that inefficiencies in compressed air systems (CAS) can be significant, Efficiency Vermont (EV) helped Carris hire a compressed air specialist to assess its Vermont facilities. Results indicated that compressors in two locations were oversized and air leaks were discovered throughout distribution systems.
New compressors were installed, the leaks were addressed, and variable frequency drives and controls were added. Carris has cut its compressed air energy use in half, without any disruption to process or product. As a result, the Rutland locations are now saving approximately $50,000 per year (420,000 kWh) and the project yielded a simple payback of 1.5 years.
“We were hesitant to change our manufacturing process, but the data was compelling. I only wish we’d acted sooner,” said Tim Lybeck, Operations Manager.
In addition, Carris has recently completed lighting retrofits at all Vermont locations, and improvements to injection molding equipment at the Plastics plant. Total annual savings from efficiency upgrades exceed 1,000,000 kWh--or approximately 20 percent of total usage--at all Vermont facilities.
Carris has made energy conservation an integral part of its culture. Managers include energy reduction in their strategic planning, and they work closely with EV to monitor energy savings and carbon footprint. Carris committed to EV’s Energy Leadership Challenge, with a 7.5 percent energy reduction goal over two years. With enthusiastic buy-in from all the owners (employees and managers), Carris exceeded its target.
This steadfast commitment extends into employee homes and communities as well. As part of EV’s Employee Energy Challenge, Carris staff earned prizes for home energy upgrades. Carris managers have also participated in EV’s Best Practices Exchange and joined the Customer Advisory Group--sharing their experiences with business peers and helping to promote efficiency throughout Vermont.
Looking toward the future, Carris is evaluating an upgrade of its dust collection process by incorporating an on-demand ventilation system that would provide an attractive ROI and pay benefits for years to come. As a direct result of successful investments made in Vermont, Carris is evaluating efficiency opportunities at several of their other sites throughout North America.
As its circular reels help industries run more efficiently, Carris consistently provides great examples of how raising the bar on energy management can positively affect product, employees and bottom line.