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Plants Howmet Corporation

Manufacturer gains visibility,
cuts maintenance with prismatic lighting

Significantly boosting light levels was the goal of a lighting retrofit project conducted at Howmet Corporation's Hampton Casting in Hampton, Virginia. The facility produces investment casting, the lost wax method used by the Egyptians to make parts out of wax, to manufacture turbine engine components.

According to Skip Langley, plant engineer, Howmet Corporation, Hampton Casting, the steps for investment casting are very precise, which is why visibility is so important.

Previously, throughout the plant, a combination of Holophane Prismpack II fixtures with 400-watt metal halide lamps, metal-covered glass reflectors, and four-foot fluorescent units were being used.

In areas where the fluorescent system was installed, employees complained of shadows and excessive glare. Dirt tended to collect on the flat surfaces of the fixtures, requiring constant cleaning and maintenance.

Illumination levels varied greatly. Within the wax department, where wax parts are made for turbine blades, levels ranged from 160-180 footcandles directly beneath the fixtures to 35-60 fotcandles in areas beyond the units.

In response to these problems, the plant conducted a study to determine how light levels could be increased and the plant environment made cleaner. Based on recommendations from the study, Holophane Prismalume® units with 1,000-watt metal halide lamps and glass reflectors were installed in one end of the 80' x 172' wax department on a test basis, with existing fluorescent units allowed to remain in the other end. Holophane's Computer Aided Lighting Analysis (CALA) software was used to determine fixture placement and light levels.

"High levels of visibility in the wax department are essential because we work the wax patterns here to correct any imperfections," said Langley. "Once the 1,000-watt prismatic glass fixtures were in place, the differences in light levels were immediately noticeable.

The end with the fluorescent units appeared quite dark, while the area that was retrofit was so bright that dirt on the off-white walls became apparent enough that the walls had to be repainted. Uplight from the Prismalume units also significantly lightened the painted ceiling."

A total of 44 Prismalume units with 1,000-watt lamps were installed, replacing 52 400- watt fixtures and 89 4-foot fluorescent units. Fixtures were spaced in a rectangular grid on the concrete waffle ceiling, mounted 21 feet off the unpainted concrete floor.

Beneath the large supply duct that runs through the center of the department,
18 Holophane Prismalume fixtures with 400-watt metal halide lamps were installed to provide additional light. Spacing for these units is 16' on center.

As a result of the retrofit, illumination levels in the wax department jumped from 160 footcandles directly beneath the fluorescent fixtures (and as low as 35 footcandles beyond the fixtures) to 350-450 footcandles.
"The lighting has really opened up the area," Langley described. "The atmosphere is brighter and more comfortable, which contributes to employee productivity."

In the tool room, which is 44' x 68', 15 1,000-watt Prismalume fixtures were installed, replacing 22 Holophane 400-watt units, 25 4-foot fluorescent units, and five 8-foot fluorescent units. The ceiling in the room is 24', with fixtures stem mounted at 17 feet above the floor. Spacing is staggered, three fixtures in one row, two in the next, three in the next, etc. The ceiling in the tool shop is a dark brown metal.

"Even though it costs more to operate the 1,000-watt fixtures from an energy standpoint, maintenance is much less expensive. The high intensity discharge (HID) fixtures not only require less time and expense as far as relamping and replacing ballasts are concerned, but they are much easier to keep clean," said Langley.

The Hampton plant operates three shifts, seven days a week. Contactors control the lighting system, providing the flexibility of turning off rows of fixtures when they are not in use.
The Hampton facility is about a quarter mile in length and employs nearly 1200. Howmet Corporation, headquartered in Greenwich, Conn. operates other locations in the United States, France, England and Japan.


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