Long-time Wisconsin Manufacturer Invests in More Efficient Future

Long-time Wisconsin Manufacturer Invests in More Efficient Future

Prairie du Sac, Wis.
Village of Prairie du Sac Utilities/Alliant Energy

Focus on Energy Helping Milwaukee Valve Save Energy, Meet Environmental Goals

Prairie du Sac, Wis. – The need to replace several primary factory air compressors led to a reference and, ultimately, a partnership that is helping a long-time Wisconsin manufacturer save energy and money and meet its carbon-reduction goals.

Milwaukee Valve lives up to its name. The company makes more than 6,500 varieties of valves for use in the commercial, industrial and Marine (U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard) markets. It has been making valves in Wisconsin since 1901 and in Prairie du Sac since the mid-1980’s, but a relatively-recent development in Milwaukee Valve’s history could keep the company thriving for years to come: an introduction to FOCUS ON ENERGY®.

That introduction came from Focus on Energy Trade Ally contractor Brabazon Pump, Compressor & Vacuum. Milwaukee Valve hired Brabazon to address consistently-failing air compressors. Upgrades and replacements were an expensive option, and Brabazon mentioned that Focus on Energy could help.

“He said there’s [a financial] incentive out there from Focus on Energy,” said Milwaukee Valve Senior Manufacturing Engineer Wally Muszynski, “and I said, ‘Well, can you get me in touch with whoever it is that’s in charge of that?’… Then we met with Steve Lewallen and we’ve been working with them ever since.”

Lewallen is an Energy Advisor with Focus on Energy who specializes in working with metal-casting companies. He joined the air compressor project, which ultimately included rebuilding two compressors and buying two new ones with variable frequency drives to help control energy use.

“The compressors alternate, turn on and off, on and off,” Muszynski explained. “So, it’s not always the same compressor running like we had previously. If one compressor failed, we had to shut down (items) in the shop because we did not have enough air.”

Focus on Energy provided a financial incentive of nearly $62,000 for the air compressor project to help offset the total capital investment. The upgrades are also saving Milwaukee Valve $27,000 annually in energy costs.

Up next, the company worked with Focus on Energy to update its process for mixing and conditioning the molding sand it uses in manufacturing. Milwaukee Valve received $12,000 in financial incentives to help offset the total capital investment for that project, which is saving an additional $20,000 in annual energy costs.

“It’s more efficient. We went from 100 seconds [of running a motor to mix and dry the sand] … down to 60 seconds,” Muszynski said. “You get a better mix [that is] more consistent and you’re saving electricity.”

Milwaukee Valve’s projects with Focus on Energy have an estimated lifecycle energy savings of more than 12,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity and more than 600,000 therms of natural gas. The combined electricity and gas savings is enough energy to power more than 1,400 homes for a year.

The company also tracks its energy consumption more closely after its gas utility, Alliant Energy, installed a monitor to allow tracking of daily gas usage. And Milwaukee Valve also works closely with its electric utility, the Village of Prairie du Sac Utilities (a member of WPPI Energy), to review electric use and drive continuous improvement. Through the implementation of advanced metering by the Village, Milwaukee Valve can access and analyze their 15-minute electric data, allowing the company to pinpoint opportunities for energy efficiency. Both utilities are among the 107 that fund and partner in the Focus on Energy program.

Looking into the future, Muszynski says Milwaukee Valve has plans to increase the efficiency of other manufacturing equipment, upgrade more of its lighting to LED, and consider the possibility of adding a solar farm on 10 acres of its property to help offset energy usage.

“With our meetings once a month, [Focus on Energy has] been very helpful with looking at different things and bringing up suggestions of how we can reduce our carbon footprint, which is our mandate. We’re trying to reduce it by 1% in the next two years.”

That emphasis on energy reduction has trickled down to seemingly small things.

“We were letting (several items) run over the weekend,” Muszynski said. “And you don’t realize [how much energy you use with] just a fan running. And then you see another fan running, and another fan, and another fan. So, [now] we have a shutdown procedure for the weekend.”

When asked which benefit of Focus on Energy was most important to Milwaukee Valve – the financial incentives
or the energy knowledge provided by Lewallen and other subject-matter experts – Muszynski says it is the latter.

“I think it’s the talking with them, because you get a lot of ideas… You’re having somebody come through who knows energy, looking at your facility, and they can say, ‘I can see here, I see there, I see what you can do here.’ They can point out stuff and we go, ‘Oh yeah, they’re right. There is a way to save some energy there.’”

Focus on Energy is Wisconsin’s statewide energy efficiency and renewable resources program for residential, business, industrial and municipal customers of the 107 Wisconsin utilities that partner in the program. A recent third-party evaluation revealed Wisconsin runs the most-cost-effective energy efficiency programs in the nation, in terms of energy savings per dollar spent. The same evaluation found every $1 invested in Focus on Energy generates $5 in benefits for Wisconsin, including economic benefits, reduced energy costs and reduced pollution.

About Focus on Energy
Focus on Energy is Wisconsin utilities' statewide energy efficiency and renewable resource program funded by the state's investor-owned energy utilities and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities. Focus on Energy works with eligible Wisconsin residents and businesses to install cost-effective energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Focus on Energy information, resources and financial incentives help to implement projects that otherwise would not be completed. Its efforts help Wisconsin residents and businesses manage rising energy costs, promote in-state economic development, protect our environment and control Wisconsin's growing demand for electricity and natural gas. For more information call 800.762.7077 or visit focusonenergy.com.

Prairie du Sac, Wis.

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