Linamar

Fast Facts

Industry: Automotive and Diversified Manufacturing
Location: Headquartered in Guelph, Ontario
Program: OPA DR3
DR Strategy: Curtailment only
Primary Curtailment Strategy: Temporary shutdown of lighting, comfort, and charging stations
Annual Payments: Hundreds of thousands of dollars

The Big Picture

Based in Ontario, Linamar Corporation has grown from a small machining operation to a global supplier of vehicle and mobile industrial equipment with 37 manufacturing facilities worldwide. Linamar designs and manufactures precision metal components for the global vehicle and power generation markets, as well as designs and produces aerial work platforms and other equipment for its industrial business segment.

As Linamar has grown, so has its yearly energy usage. This dynamic presented a paradox for the historically environmentally-conscious company; Linamar was eager to minimize its energy usage as much as possible but did not want to impede its manufacturing operations. The customized energy reduction plan proposed by EnerNOC was exactly the bespoke solution that Linamar needed to participate in the Ontario Power Authority’s DR3 scheme. EnerNOC helped Linamar identify potential areas for energy reductions while leaving critical manufacturing processes untouched.

As a local expert with global backing, EnerNOC had the most on-the-ground knowledge of Ontario’s demand response program, and, more importantly, the ability to understand Linamar’s business and match the two in a win-win partnership. “EnerNOC has the most information, the most up-to-date process knowledge, and the most insight into the specifics of demand response,” said Tony Luis, Linamar’s Director of Purchasing. For Linamar, this combination of process expertise and local presence was essential.

Customized Site-Specific Demand Response

Linamar was keen to reduce energy usage wherever possible, but with 25 separate facilities across Ontario, knowing where to begin was an intimidating challenge. EnerNOC’s local experts made this daunting task seem simple. In early 2009, representatives from EnerNOC visited all of the site managers at Linamar’s various facilities. They conducted interviews and determined what level of participation would be right for each individual plant. “EnerNOC took us through the process step-by-step,” Luis recalled. “They met with each individual plant, and explained what each site’s involvement would be in a demand response dispatch.”

EnerNOC outlined a curtailment plan for each Linamar facility, met with each facility manager to have it approved, and ran tests at each site to make sure the reductions would be effective during a demand response dispatch. Ultimately, consensus was reached across all 25 plants, and each one signed on to its unique energy reduction plan.

The Results

Linamar’s two requirements for its plants’ curtailment plans were to 1) maintain employee safety at all times, and 2) to allow its manufacturing processes to continue unimpeded. Therefore, when a demand response dispatch occurs, Linamar practices non-operational curtailment measures such as reducing air conditioning in the plants’ front offices, dimming lights, and reducing the air cycle schedule in the plants. Through these measures, Linamar’s 25 plants have the ability to provide a total reduction of 2.4 megawatts (MW) per dispatch. Since joining the program in 2009, Linamar has been dispatched an average of six times per year.

For Linamar, participating in demand response with EnerNOC is straightforward. Four hours before a dispatch begins, EnerNOC contacts the designated point person at each Linamar facility. The Linamar contacts acknowledge the dispatch via email or cell phone. The company then sends out an internal email to let its staff know that the dispatch is occurring. Two hours before the actual dispatch, Linamar’s sites implement their respective curtailment plans. “We like to be proactive and make sure we will be able to meet our goals. We test this prior to the dispatch taking place,” says Luis. From his computer, Luis can monitor each site’s energy consumption in real time via EnerNOC’s cloud-based energy intelligence software, ensuring that each site is meeting its reduction targets. If he observes any one of the 25 sites not adhering to its plan, Luis will make a call to investigate. The dispatch lasts exactly four hours.

The Benefits

Linamar’s 2.4 MW reductions have earned the company approximately hundreds of thousands in annual payments from EnerNOC. In addition to these financial benefits, Linamar has used EnerNOC's EIS platform to enhance its own internal understanding of its various plants, and increased its awareness of what processes have the greatest impact on the company’s energy usage.

EnerNOC demand response brings additional benefits to the company as well, including:

Business Continuity

For most manufacturing companies, the financial incentives from demand response prompt them to pursue a full or partial shutdown of manufacturing processes, while the crew are deployed to other activities like equipment maintenance. For Linamar, though, EnerNOC was able to identify substantial energy reductions outside of core manufacturing processes so Linamar enjoys the financial rewards of demand response without disruption to its business.

Business Intelligence

EnerNOC’s EIS platform provides Linamar with a way to monitor its disparate facilities from a central online application. Prior to working with EnerNOC, Linamar had no way to visualize aggregated energy usage data from individual facilities.

“Our plants were not connected to each other at all,” noted Luis. “EnerNOC gave us tools to help identify what processes in our manufacturing have the greatest impact on our energy use. Our plants are now connected; we didn’t have that before.”

Local Support

If a certain plant struggles to reach expected reductions during dispatches, EnerNOC visits that site to discuss adjustments to its curtailment plan. “EnerNOC is very involved in the process of making DR work for each of our plants. They are the experts in what is required to meet our reduction goals,” Luis explained.

A Comprehensive Approach to Sustainability

“A lot of our decision-making processes are green-conscious,” said Luis. “The DR3 program is just another element of how we do things here. We appreciate the financial benefits but we also learn about our business’ effect on our electricity usage.” Often, individual plants will challenge themselves to continue curtailment even longer than the official dispatch period. “We take certain measures to reduce electricity during curtailment, but now plants are asking themselves, ‘Can we do these things over longer periods?’”

The Future

Linamar recently renewed its contract with EnerNOC so that it will continue to understand its own energy usage and earn financial benefits at the same time. Why else? EnerNOC makes it easy. Says Tony Luis: “EnerNOC stays on top of things and communicates with us; they are very active and involved.” With its hands-on, customized approach, strong local connections with Ontario’s utilities, and global technical expertise, EnerNOC takes the guess-work out of demand response.