When Larry Fabina, manager of continuous improvement, ArcelorMittal USA, says he’s going fishing, he’s not donning his waders and heading out to Lake Michigan. Instead, he’s grabbing his personal protective equipment to look for energy-saving projects at one of ArcelorMittal’s facilities that can result in major savings for the company’s bottom line.
For the past 10 years, Larry has been on a mission to find a myriad of ways to reap substantial energy savings for ArcelorMittal. Because the steelmaking process is so energy-intensive, Larry’s pool of energy projects never runs dry. Whether at his home facility at Burns Harbor, Indiana, or any of the other locations across ArcelorMittal, Larry enlists a team of fishing buddies of local operating and maintenance employees to find energy savings within their operations. ENERGY STAR® calls such excursions treasure hunts, but Larry refers to them as “fishing expeditions” – finding energy conservation projects that can lead to major cost savings.
“These fishing activities serve as a valuable continuous improvement tool that’s used to “fish” for no or low investment initiatives to lower our energy consumption which leads to reduced costs,” said Larry. “We’ve had some impressive results in the past few years since we began these intensive fishing trips looking for energy savings. In 2015, we completed fishing expeditions at Burns Harbor, Gary Heat Treat, Columbus Coatings and the Cleveland facilities.”
At our facility in Cleveland, Ohio, $450,000 has been saved at the hot strip mill as a result of the fishing trips, with more savings expected in the near future. Such trips allow the facility to focus on some of the smaller, easier to achieve projects that can really add up to major savings. Additional projects at Cleveland have the potential to save another $50,000 a year. The most promising ideas include automating various fans and compressors so they only run when needed. Additional opportunities were uncovered in lighting configurations, fixing air and steam leaks, and diverting compressor heated air to help heat the shop during the cold weather months.
“The major reduction in energy is made through capital projects, but individual involvement by employees is extremely important,” notes Larry. “This is where small improvements can be made day-by-day. It may be as simple as taking the extra effort to turn off a fan, a motor, a pump, lights, heaters or even a computer. These small actions are key because they can add up to huge savings.”
In 2013, ArcelorMittal signed a voluntary agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy, stating our goal of reducing energy by 10 percent in 10 years for ArcelorMittal USA. Larry adds, “That’s a huge amount of reduction and it may be a stretch goal. However, after two years, we are right on track. But to reach the final goal, it will take more projects and additional conservation efforts.”
Larry also points out that any energy cost that’s saved goes directly to ArcelorMittal’s bottom line. “We can either hand over the amount of money that we’re charged for energy to our local utility or we can reduce our costs through energy savings to become more competitive.”
In 2016, other ArcelorMittal locations, including our facilities in Coatesville and Steelton, Pennsylvania; Warren, Ohio; and Weirton, West Virginia, will participate in fishing expeditions to seek opportunities that result in reducing energy costs. “Such energy savings directly add to our ability and focus to be a sustainable company moving forward,” added Larry. “We want to ensure we capture these opportunities, so that we aren’t left regretting ‘the big one that got away.”