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“More light!“ were the last two words uttered by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, spoken at a time when candles and oil lamps were the only source of artificial light. 47 years later, his final wish was fulfilled – right across the world – by Thomas Alpha Edison when he patented the light bulb, originally invented by the German emigrant Heinrich Goebel. The world became a brighter place. Not a great deal happened in the lighting industry over the next one hundred years or so with energy being so cheap and becoming ever easier to access. No-one had the slightest inkling of the problems of carbon emissions and climate change. The energy transition did not get underway until 2006 when the first LEDs broke the 100 lumens-per-Watt barrier and the efficiency of conventional light bulbs was called into question as scientists investigated the causes of climate change. REMONDIS has now successfully implemented its own energy transition.
The questions facing businesses in today’s more or less well-lit working environment is not how to get ‘more’ light but ‘better’ light and how to implement the best possible energy management systems. The advantages speak for themselves. On the one hand, better lighting reduces energy consumption and significantly lowers overheads. On the other hand, carbon emissions are cut as energy consumption drops. Back in 2011, REMONDIS Electrorecycling GmbH set itself the goal of introducing the DIN EN 50001 energy management system into its WEEE dismantling centres. With Gudrun Timmer and Carsten Koch appointed energy management officer and energy management specialist, the company began the official process of introducing the system into its operations in 2013. Certificates were issued for 2013 and 2014 confirming that the DIN standards had been established in their company. The DIN ISO 50001 certificate was then issued by ifu-cert to all of the company’s dismantling centres in Germany this summer, complementing the certificates that REMONDIS Electrorecycling already has for its quality and environmental management systems (DIN EN 9001 & 14001). The company’s goal now is to have had all of its European dismantling centres in Poland and France certified by the end of the year.
Gudrun Timmer (responsible for all organisational and documentary work needed to meet the DIN standards) and Carsten Koch (in charge of implementing the technical measures into the plants and evaluating the recorded data) have driven forward this energy transition project at REMONDIS with passion and enthusiasm. “This accreditation underlines the company’s determination to improve energy consumption at its plants. It’s not enough to simply say ‘the environment is important, we must save energy’; this commitment is far more credible when a business actually introduces an environmental or energy management system,“ explained Gudrun Timmer.
Carsten Koch described how the system actually works: “In 2012, our dismantling centre in Lünen only had two electricity meters on two transformers. A measuring system has now been installed across the plant with 20 individual electricity meters as well as units to measure compressed air and gas consumption. This has made everything far more transparent allowing us to see how energy is consumed throughout the whole of the facility. We now have access to far more detailed information and can see exactly how much energy each individual piece of equipment uses.” All the measurements are displayed via a monitoring programme, which is based on the ideas and concepts drawn up by Carsten Koch and was programmed by the company Lanfer in accordance with his instructions. This innovative software was installed in the dismantling centre in 2014 and since then he has been able to call up and evaluate the consumption of electricity, gas and compressed air at the Lünen plant in real time from his office.
The consumption of each individual machine can be monitored and improved thanks to the new system.
This monitoring programme is certainly very versatile: current and past measurements and evaluations can be called up to compare energy consumption and the availability and running times of the different types of machinery.
Besides monitoring energy levels, the programme is also able to record, process and evaluate a whole range of measurements. As the system is web-based, it can be accessed from anywhere in the world and at any time – even by smartphone! Furthermore, the plant manager is sent an automatically generated report every day that gives the plant’s energy consumption levels of the previous 24 hours. This information enables any irregularities to be picked up quickly and can also be used for planning maintenance work.
Carsten Koch and Gudrun Timmer
„Improving energy consumption and cutting carbon emissions are just a few of the key words that can be heard during this process. Thanks to the German SpaEfV ordinance – which was introduced to promote energy efficiency – a company’s tax bill can also be cut considerably if they provide proof that they have introduced a new energy management system.“
Even the experts were surprised by the initial evaluations of the energy consumption at the dismantling plant in Lünen in 2014. Gudrun Timmer commented: “We were very surprised to see that 36.3 % of our overall energy consumption in 2014 was caused by our lighting system.” This was certainly an issue that could be resolved by investing in new lighting technology. A detailed analysis was carried out and a concept drawn up to improve the situation. An innovative LED system was then installed in the plant during the first quarter of 2015: around 140 480-Watt lights were replaced by 100-Watt LED lights. Moreover, as the new lights were so much brighter, fewer were needed and a number of the old strip light systems could be removed. “Simply installing modern lighting will cut consumption by 83.5 %. The investment will have paid for itself within just 14 months,” Carsten Koch concluded.
WEEE recycling is much better for the environment than mining primary raw materials – the new energy management system will help to cut carbon emissions even further.
The new LED lights will cut the company’s electricity consumption by around 380,000 kwh/year and reduce its overheads by €60,000 per year. Carbon emissions will be slashed by an incredible 230 tonnes during the same period. And Goethe’s final wish will also have been fulfilled. The lighting in the plant is much improved and the employees really like the new system as it is very similar to natural daylight.