IAC Students Are Helping Manufacturing Facilities Improve Productivity & Save Energy

Bryan Kilgore, ERS, for Zondits

The Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC) program provides great benefit to the manufacturing sector and engineering students alike. The program provides cost-savings recommendations to industry while giving students on-the-job experience in the energy engineering field. I worked at the IAC at Oregon State University during my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Now I work for an energy engineering consulting company as a project engineer, and I can attest that my career would not be where it’s at now without the IAC program.

The Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) program is currently administered at the U.S. Department of Energy through the Advanced Manufacturing Office under the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Currently, 28 IACs are housed in universities across the country, utilizing engineering students to help small to medium manufacturing facilities improve productivity, reduce waste, and save energy.

Each IAC is led by a director, often a professor at the host university. Students, both graduate and undergraduate, conduct energy assessments at facilities, primarily during the summer, for at least two terms. Established students also help to train incoming students, and graduate students can take on management duties for the center. Each energy assessment involves a student team visiting each site to perform a walk-through of the facility, identify opportunities, collect data, deploy loggers as needed, and estimate preliminary savings results. These preliminary estimates are presented to key facility staff, and a list of measures to pursue is agreed upon by the site staff and IAC assessment team. The students then develop assessment recommendation analyses with the data collected. All recommendations are compiled in a report for the facility to review and help inform decisions on which measures to implement.

[bctt tweet=”Over the IAC program lifetime, over 4.7 billion kWh of electricity savings have been implemented.” username=”ZonditsEE”]

Benefits to Industry

The energy assessments the IAC performs for manufacturing facilities are provided at no cost to the facility, and they offer significant savings benefits. On average, each assessment recommends over $136,000 of cost savings for measures that save energy, reduce waste, or increase productivity. Since the project started, more than 18,000 assessments have been conducted by IACs across the United States. Over the lifetime of the program, over 4.7 billion kWh of electricity and over 25 million MMBtu of natural gas savings have been implemented.

Overall, the IAC program offers a low-cost energy audit for small to medium manufacturing facilities to reduce their annual costs, and reduce energy consumption to the grid. As well as training a new set of engineers with the professional skills necessary to perform the tasks required as an energy efficiency engineer.

To learn more about the IAC visit their website and explore the IAC Database.