The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) released a case study in which an EDF Climate Corps fellow helped the adidas Group save energy at its Spartanburg, SC, distribution center.
The “Conveyor Belt to Energy Savings” case study outlined several ways the adidas Group implemented energy efficiency strategies for its material handling equipment (MHE).
Perhaps the key finding, and the one that resonated with distribution center managers at other sites, is that many energy-saving opportunities are buried under the utter complexity of the Warehouse Management System (WMS) that controls the MHE. For example, one day the EDF fellow was watching the WMS software countdown from 15 minutes to zero, at which point, a section of conveyor was supposed to shut off due to inactivity. Oddly, when it reached 0:00, the clock reset, and the belts immediately resumed running for another 15 minutes. This cycle continued, over and over. It turned out that a secondary software condition was preventing a handful of conveyor sections from turning off when inactive. Changing the WMS software rules would allow these individual areas to shut down. Reprogramming would deliver several tens of thousands of dollars in energy savings each year.
Due to staff turnover, the team that installed the WMS software is no longer part of the Spartanburg operations team. The current operations team agreed that the facility would benefit from regular training and optimization sessions with the WMS vendor to document, revise and refine the shutdown sequences.
EDF Climate Corps pairs fellows – top graduate students from the nation’s leading universities – with companies, cities, schools and public institutions to identify, measure and implement ways to save energy.