Ajinomoto Co. is a global manufacturer of high-quality seasonings, processed foods, beverages, amino acids, pharmaceuticals and specialty chemicals. Ajinomoto was struggling with the legacy lighting system in their 145,000 sq ft Portland manufacturing plant.

The legacy lighting system throughout the plant was fluorescent linear lamps energized by both magnetic and electronic ballast. HID fixtures were used throughout the production facility, while T8 fluorescent lamps were used in office and research areas. This system provided such poor light levels in the facility, under 25 foot-candles, that it contributed to challenges in manufacturing and inspecting food ingredients, as well as slip and trip safety hazards throughout the plant. Exterior lighting surrounding the plant and in the parking lot was also dim, creating security perimeter concerns around this FDA-regulated food facility.

Improving light levels was a high safety priority, but heavily reducing maintenance needs was the top overall priority. With more than 1,400 fixtures throughout the facility, maintaining this system exceeded the capacity of  Ajinomoto's    on-site electrician and required outside electrical contractors to be called in. Annual maintenance costs for this legacy lighting system were over $80,000 - in part due to the intricate fixture housing required in food processing. In this high-paced, 24/7 facility, these maintenance periods caused too much downtime in production.

North Coast’s  Energy Solutions  team recommended a plant-wide lighting package to address the poor light levels throughout the interior and exterior of the facility. The most challenging part of implementation was developing a solution to address the 2x2 fixtures that covered the production floors. They housed either a 400W HID or a 5-lamp T8 system. New fixtures would have driven the cost of this project well beyond feasibility, so a custom retrofit solution using the existing fixture housing was the only option.

North Coast partnered with Lumecon as the primary fixture manufacturer to design the custom LED retrofit panel that would work within the enclosed fixture housing. For the exterior, offices, and other interior spaces not on the production floor, the team partnered with Eaton for their integrated lighting control systems. Previously there were no lighting controls being utilized anywhere throughout the plant, which meant even more opportunity for energy savings and potential for an increased utility rebate. Changing this allowed the customer to capture extra energy savings through occupancy sensing as well as daylight harvesting where applicable.

This opportunity required creative thinking and custom designs, with the team at North Coast ultimately delivering a truly one of a kind solution. Not only was the team able to deliver a system that will require minimal maintenance for years to come, the light levels jumped to an impressive 40 foot-candles in production areas. The custom solution Lumecon provided allowed us to check off every box for system requirements, while also drastically reducing total material costs. Combine this with the impressive rebate provided by the Energy Trust of Oregon and this project has a simple payback period of just under three years.


Lighting inside the facility after project completion.



Contact the Energy Specialist:

Neil Schilling


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