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GM Rolling out GE Efficiency Program at 20 Plants

A GE energy efficiency program with a less than six-month payback is being implemented at 20 General Motors plants, the two companies have announced.

GM has adapted GE’s Proficy Cimplicity software to tie the use of lights to the schedule of conveyers. The manufacturer then discovered other aspects of consumption that could also be tied to conveyer operations, including air supply houses, compressed air generators, water and paint shop ovens.

“Everything in a vehicle assembly plant is tied to the conveyor,” said Mike Durak, General Motors, Global Information Technology Manager. “A hidden benefit was that once we scheduled the conveyor we had a good view into what the plant was doing, so we were able to schedule the on and off of big energy consumers in the plant.”

GE said that annual savings on heating, ventilation, air conditioning and lighting at each plant will be up to five times greater than the cost of implementation. The savings for hydraulic pumps and ovens will be up to four times greater than installation, and for chilled water and exhaust fans will be up to seven times greater, GE said.

The HMI/SCADA software also monitors air quality and temperature in the paint shop, watching for dust and other contaminates. The system lets GM manage the whole factory or parts of it from any location.

This week GE also unveiled a software package, Proficy for Sustainability Metrics, for the measurement and analysis of facilities’ energy and water consumption by area, process or machine level.

In November GM subsidiary Chevrolet said it plans to invest $40 million in a variety of clean energy projects in the U.S., with a goal to reduce 8 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

Last month GM announced that 52 percent of its facilities have stopped sending waste to landfills. The company said that in 2010, it recycled or reused 2.5 million tons of waste materials at its plants worldwide, eliminating 8.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emissions from entering the atmosphere.

GM also has invested hundreds of millions of dollars to build fuel-efficient vehicles like the Chevrolet Cruze Eco, which gets an EPA-estimated 42 mpg on the highway, and the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid.

Have GM’s sustainability initiatives done any good? Read our opinion piece here.

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