Nike’s Lonny Knabe Details Factory Energy Retrofits

Nike’s Lonny Knabe Details Factory Energy Retrofits
(Photo Credit: Nike)

The kilowatt hours required per pair of shoes is only about 4.3, but the total required for one year of Nike’s energy use is “staggering,” says the company’s manufacturing energy and carbon director Lonny Knabe. At the Environmental Leader & Energy Manager Conference on Wednesday, he described Nike’s efforts to improve energy efficiency at their factories worldwide.

Most of their factories are in Indonesia, China, and Vietnam, so that’s where the majority of the energy work has been focused. Two areas Knabe focused on were boilers and motors for his track, “Collaboration Throughout the Supply Chain.”

Boilers are essential for the dyeing and finishing process, he explained, but they operate at an almost continuous rate and use 80% of a supplier facility’s energy. Imagine a teapot on your stove that’s as big as your car or house, runs 24-7, and produces steam that reaches to 500°F, Knabe said. For motors, Nike has an initiative to upgrade them to at least IE3 — the premium international efficiency for asynchronous motors.

Knabe shared these key Nike approaches:

—Checking for counterfeits. Nike wants to see all factory motors 11 kilowatts or greater get upgraded to IE3. “The first thing you have to worry about is are they actually IE3 or does the label just say IE3? That’s something we thought might happen, but it’s a major problem,” Knabe said. “We have a procurement team in Taiwan that’s helping us work through some of those issues.”

—Doing the math. Many times the factory brings in a vendor who says, “This machine is definitely more efficient than what you already have.” But it’s just newer, not necessarily more efficient, Knabe says. So Nike is coaching the factory energy teams to get to where they can do the calculations themselves, even when the vendors push back.

—Redesigning machines for energy efficiency. “A lot of machines that are used in footwear factories are adapted from other industries,” Knabe said. “One for rubber mixing is called a Banbury. The gearbox on this machine is about as big as a Volkswagen Beetle. About 85% of the energy used in that process is to turn that gear.” Knabe added that Nike has a team working on machine design.

A survey of a factory Knabe shared showed almost 28 MW of motor demand. “Some of these factories peak at over 100 MW of electricity demand,” he said. “So anything we can do here is going to have a really significant impact.”

Stay tuned for more updates from #ELEMCON18.

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