Sustainability in SC – Manufacturer Reduces Cost by 44%

MachineryThe OpExChange closed out Q1 2021 with a two-hour event that included content from four presenters on Sustainability. This was a packed session to conclude Q1 2021, with not only great presentations but also some meaningful content that OpExChange took back to their facilities. The event featured presentations from Komatsu North America, Southpoint Solutions, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, and the Clemson University Industrial Assessment Center.


Komatsu in Newberry is an active OpExChange member for over eight years and is a frequent presenter and collaborator. In today’s session, their senior manufacturing engineer, Reid Elmore, shared how they have reduced their overall electricity consumption by 44% in just two years. The result is impressive but equally remarkable is the methodology in how they achieved this. They went after this in a systemic, team approach, constantly utilizing the continuous improvement method of Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA). Reid shared with the OpExChange how they aligned their plant’s activities with their corporate and North American directives to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions. His presentation shared the actual tools and methodologies used in the PDCA cycle, including Pareto analysis, Ishikawa cause & effect, fault-tree analysis, countermeasures, and action plans.


The Clemson IAC was added in 2016 and has performed over 47 assessments totaling $4.3M in recommended savings, with an average payback of 19 months. Recommended savings equate to a reduction of CO2 emissions equivalent to that of 8,000 homes annually! The mission of the Clemson IAC is to help boost the economy of South Carolina by proving no-cost energy assessments while training the next generation of energy-savvy engineers. Funded by the Department of Energy, the Clemson IAC offers these assessments to qualified manufacturers in South Carolina. Many OpExChange companies fit right into this criterion. The full cycle of the assessment typically lasts 3 to 4 months, with a one-day, on-site analysis. Some case studies performed were shared with the group, including one performed at Komatsu in Newberry. Information on participating in the Clemson program is available on their website:


Not all LEDs are created equal! That was the overarching theme from the presentation from Trebor Davis, Director of Business Development for Southpoint Solutions. LED lighting definitely utilizes less energy than traditional light sources. It is a cost-effective means to reduce both energy costs and CO2 emissions.

In the past several years, LED technology has greatly improved and there is now a wide spectrum of solutions available. When choosing the “best” solution for a project, however, it is important to fully evaluate the economic impact of each. Often, simple payback return is the only criteria used to determine which option to use.

Trebor shared that there are three pillars to a lighting project: Improved lighting, Energy Savings, and Rated Life. Quality and distribution, utilizing the correct optics are crucial when looking at the efficacy of lighting and operational costs. Not only the maintenance, but the replacement of fixtures should be considered in the life of the project. Trebor introduced the team to the term “L70” which is the term used to capture the point in time when a fixture reaches 70% of its initial light output. This is recognized as the time when a fixture should be replaced. Trebor shared an example of two projects where option “A” was $13K cheaper than option B and had a quicker simple payback period. However, option “A” ended-up costing about $147K more over a ten-year period.

Trebor provided the OpExChange team with a copy of his financial analysis template (Excel) that he uses to determine not only the payback period, but also the IRR, NPV, and cumulative cash flow.


Anna DeLage is the Recycling Department Manager with the SC Department of Commerce. For today’s presentation, Anna showed how the department of Commerce is eager to assist all South Carolina manufacturing companies. She demonstrated a tool now available ( that quickly identifies recycling companies across the State. It is easily searchable by commodity and county and can be downloaded to a spreadsheet.

Also, one-on-one consulting opportunities are available to manufacturers. In cooperation with the SCMEP, they can help identify and reduce waste streams in manufacturing operations. There are often opportunities to turn those waste streams into revenue!

The SC Dept. of Commerce is a frequently untapped resource to SC manufacturers. Anna asked that manufacturers view them as an extension of their team. There are existing industry managers covering each county whose entire purpose is to help SC businesses thrive.

All OpExChange members were provided with additional resources to assist them in their Sustainability efforts as well as copies of all presentations and supporting information.


The OpExChange is the only peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina dedicated to learning and growing together. Member companies host events and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to South Carolina companies that provides access to others who are on similar improvement journeys. If you are interested in joining, contact Mike Demos ( or visit the OpExChange website to see current companies:

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