Ash Grove Durkee plant wins company’s top energy award

Source: Ash Grove Cement Co., Overland Park, Kan.

Ash Groves Durkee, Ore., plant won top honors in the company’s annual Ash Grove Energy Management (AGem) Outstanding Plant of the Year competition for 2011. Since 2008, eight Ash Grove cement manufacturing plants and two grinding facilities have competed to earn the award. Each facility is evaluated on an extensive matrix of data that is focused on energy use, efficiency and cost. The AGem process involves the entire plant workforce as well as overhead and support groups. Most suggestions to reduce energy usage and costs come from plant employees.

Each plant has its own AGem “Champion” who coordinates the AGem activities, which include monthly meetings, idea promotion, idea solicitation, project evaluation and other activities. The AGem process partners with local vendors, national suppliers, utilities, energy suppliers and contractors, as well as local and state governments to identify, implement, finance or develop worthy ideas. Since the program’s inception in 2008, projects have included lighting retrofits, variable frequency drive motor installations, efficiency-driven equipment replacement, equipment tuning, peak power demand shaving, off-hour power shaping, rerouting product flow to reduce energy use and even a successful pilot project to grow algae using carbon dioxide (CO2).

Andy Lippert, corporate energy director, scores each plant every month based on a scorecard of 12 metrics. Those scores are tabulated, and the plant with the highest score is recommended to Ash Grove senior staff as the leading plant to receive the award.  For 2011, Ash Grove senior staff selected Durkee as the Outstanding AGem plant of the year. “I recommended the Durkee, Ore., facility based on its point total and the significant results the plant achieved in working with the regional power provider in re-shaping the plant’s peak power demand as well as its improvements in compressed air usage, VFD installations and process efficiency advancements,” said Lippert. “Through Durkee AGem Champion Alan Finch and Plant Manager Terry Kerby, the team was able to reduce power costs at the plant by nearly 15 percent for the year.”

“We are pleased to win the AGem traveling trophy,” said Kerby.  “Alan and the whole team worked hard throughout the year and achieved more than $450,000 in reduced energy costs at the plant.”

The Durkee, Ore., Ash Grove cement manufacturing plant employs 109 and began operations in 1979.  The plant expanded in 1998 and is certified as ISO 14001 compliant. The facility has earned awards including: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Award in 2010, the Pacific Northwest Chapter of Air and Waste Management Environmental Achievement Award in 2010, and several safety awards from the Portland Cement Association as well as Ash Grove’s President’s Safety awards.

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