Three of Kemps five main processing plants obtain their natural gas through U.S. Energy Services’ transport service, creating great cost savings. In Minneapolis for example, the utility announces its gas price and within three days, U.S. Energy determines whether it can find its clients a lower price elsewhere. For Kemps, this service has saved tens of thousands of dollars annually. Case in point, the company saves $40,000 to $50,000 per year in energy costs at its Minneapolis plant alone.
At another Kemps plant, a backup fuel system alternates between using natural gas from the utility company and fuel oil, depending on which fuel is less expensive at the time of purchase. Prior to each month, U.S. Energy Services analyzes the forecasted demand and energy market prices to determine which will be most cost effective. Armed with this information, Kemps can switch its system to run on either fuel. In a market of unprecedented volatility, Kemps has saved more than $90,000 dollars in energy costs since implementing this system in 2005.
“Receiving energy price analysis is especially important considering the volatility of fuel prices,” says Bob Williams, Kemps’ vice president of operations. “Having multiple options helps us keep costs down and ensures we stay in line with our budgets.”
Another Minnesota food manufacturer that has lowered energy costs is Faribault Foods Inc., which has reduced natural gas usage by 38.7 percent since 2007 at its Faribault, MN, plant. The Minneapolis-based company produces canned beans, chicken, chili, pasta, baked beans, soups, stews and vegetables, as well as aseptic juice pouches and organic food items.
The natural gas reduction was achieved by a system created by Faribault Foods and Thermo-Environmental Systems, which captures and transfers energy from heated water within the plant to water entering the plant. Given the amount of energy used in its water-intensive cooking systems, this had a dramatic effect on the natural gas consumption in the plant.
The company is also using water more efficiently at the plant. The annualized reduction in water usage exceeds 100 million gallons and allows the plant to reuse much of the water that used to go down the drain. The impact of the natural gas savings accounts for a reduction of 3,030 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year—the equivalent of removing 579 passenger vehicles from the road each year, according to the EPA greenhouse gas equivalency calculator.
“Reduced usage of energy and resources allows us to reduce costs and be more competitive in the marketplace,” says Frank Lynch, the company’s executive vice president of sales and marketing. “Increasingly customers are selecting suppliers that place an emphasis on sustainability.”
Pallets Can Be Green, Too
There’s long been a debate over which type of pallet is more sustainable—plastic or wood. Plastic pallet makers claim their pallets are more recyclable than wood and environmentally friendlier. CHEP recently released a study, however, that demonstrates quite the opposite.
The report, produced by Franklin Associates, found that the CHEP system generates 48 percent less solid waste, consumes 23 percent less total energy and generates 14 percent less greenhouse gas than pooled plastic pallets. Compared with limited use white wood pallets, the CHEP system generates 50 percent less solid waste, consumes 19 percent less total energy and generates 5 percent less greenhouse gas.
“When a company evaluates the total program cost and supply chain impact of their shipping platform choice, there are many traditional areas of consideration such as procurement cost and material handling efficiencies,” says Candice Herndon, director, environment and regulatory affairs, CHEP Americas, Orlando, FL. “The use of a pallet pooling system in the supply chain can deliver both economic and environmental benefits at the same time.”
And those benefits can really add up. According to Herndon, for every 100,000 pallets shipped on CHEP instead of pooled plastic pallets, manufacturers and retailers can help to save approximately:
• 53,000 pounds of solid waste (which is equivalent to over 160 cubic yards of landfill space);