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Plants O'Sullivan Industries

Prismatic lighting justifies retrofit expense
at O'Sullivan Industires

Good lighting is expensive, but poor lighting is even more expensive, according to Ron Richter, manager, electrical engineering, O’Sullivan Industries, Inc.

“Employees are much happier if the area they work in is clean and well lighted. This is reflected in the quality and quantity of their work,” Richter said.

O’Sullivan’s 24-acre facility in Lamar, Missouri, recently retrofitted the lighting in its manufacturing plant, which is also the site of the company’s corporate headquarters. The Lamar plant is the production facility for a major ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture manufacturer.

Previously, high bay fixtures with acrylic reflectors and 400-watt metal halide lamps were used to illuminate the plant’s manufacturing space.

Commodity-grade high bay fixtures with metal reflectors and 400-watt metal halide lamps were installed in the warehouse and the final packing area, where inspections are performed. Light levels in the packing area measured only 20 to 25 footcandles.

“The lighting system did not provide the light levels needed to produce the quality of products demanded by our customers,” Richter confirmed.

The lighting system installed is a combination of Holophane Enduralume‚ 400-watt pulse start metal halide fixtures, PrismAire‚ 400-watt pulse start metal halide units, and CentaGlo‚ 400-watt pulse start metal halide luminaires. The PrismAire fixtures were installed in the general warehouse, with the Enduralume units used in the high traffic stocking and shipping areas within the warehouse. The CentaGlo units were installed in the packing department, which is part of production.

Fixture selection was based on a yearlong test conducted within the plant, which included measured performance readings and visual inspections. Purchase price, installation costs and energy savings were also considerations. According to Richter, the plant’s goal was to provide more lumens using the same or fewer watts.

“We chose the fixtures with the glass reflectors because of their high performance and low maintenance requirements,” Richter said. “The metal reflectors on the previous fixtures had oxidized and become dull over time, resulting in a significant drop in light output.”

Luminaires are installed 14 feet above the concrete floor in the manufacturing area, and 18 feet—or as high as possible—in the warehouse and other storage areas. Most fixtures are spaced 20 feet on center, although exceptions were made in locations where higher light levels were needed due to the task demand, such as the inspection area. Richter said some areas were difficult to light because the fixtures had to be installed over production equipment. Illumination levels are 65 footcandles in the manufacturing area and 25 footcandles in the storage spaces.

The wiring and controls for the lighting fixtures were replaced the same as though the facility was newly constructed. “It was more cost effective to install manufactured wiring than to reuse the existing wiring,” Richter confirmed.

Fixtures are controlled via low voltage controls 24vdc. A PLC is installed in each control area and connected by LAN to a computer server. When the project is completed next year, individual departments will have the capability of scheduling the time and date each week that the lighting fixtures are turned off for the weekends and holidays. Turning off the fixtures when they are not needed will result in thousands of dollars in energy savings.

All high intensity discharge (HID) fixtures are cycled off one phase at a time during the early hours of Sunday morning to meet the plant’s requirement that all HID lamps be off for a minimum of 15 minutes each week. The computer automatically rotates light circuits, assigning a different phase each week to provide an unswitched circuit for security lighting. Through this method, all lighting equipment has distributed use.

If power is lost long enough for the HID fixtures to drop out, 15 percent of the HID luminaires will provide low level light from the quartz restrike lamps. The new pulse start fixtures re-light more quickly than the previous non-pulse start units.

With some of the prismatic glass luminaires installed since 1998, Richter indicated that O’Sullivan Industries has heard only positive comments from employees and visitors.

The Holophane fixtures are illuminated an average of 120 hours per week.


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