SMYRNA, Tenn. – Nissan's manufacturing facilities in North America are making major changes to reduce the amount of energy they use. They have committed to reduce their overall energy consumption by 25 percent in ten years. It is a move meant to help the environment.
So how is the company reducing their carbon footprint? They have deployed an air-leak detection squad of sorts. These are employees at each plant whose only job is to find and fix wasted compressed air. That is one of the greatest forms of wasted energy at the plants, even above electricity.
"In fact, it is one of our most costly utilities. We have nine large compressors that supply us with compressed air here at our plant in Smyrna," said Jason Watkins, Nissan safety coordinator.
Compressed air keeps the presses running in stamping. It's used to apply paint and also powers various tools used in the manufacturing process. There literally are miles of hose throughout the plant that carry compressed air to thousands of devices. And along the way air leaks often occur, which can result in as much as twenty to thirty percent of leaked compressed air.
The team's key weapon in this fight is an air-leak detection tool. The device is essentially a high powered microphone that senses and transforms inaudible sounds from compressed air leaks into ones an operator can hear with headphones, and read in decibel levels. Smyrna just expanded their air leak detection program to their Trim and Chassis department. And at this rate they'll keep expanding in the name of energy efficiency.
"When this tool is used effectively it could help us achieve that 25 percent reduction within 10 years," said Watkins. "Now we are looking at communicating with our truck system and getting it used there as well."
According to Nissan, since they started this compressed air leak repair program in North America last year, their plants have located and repaired more than 3,500 air leaks. The savings of compressed air was equivalent to about 8,000 tons of CO2 emissions spared.
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