An energy audit at this Melbourne manufacturer sparked savings of $33,500 a year


16 March 2020

Jean-Pierre Jardel, owner of a steel cabinet manufacturing business in Melbourne, reduced his gas bill by $13,500 after auditing and upgrading his oven infrastructure.

 Image: Owner, Jean-Pierre Jardel (left), Business Development Manager, Karina Clarke (middle), Research Manager, Robert Gianello (right)

Planex has been making steel storage cabinets in Melbourne since 1972. The company uses a lot of gas in their manufacturing process and had noticed a big jump in energy costs in the last few years.

 “We knew we were wasting a lot of energy,” explained Jean-Pierre. “Our ovens are old but too costly to replace. Looking at efficiency was the next logical step.”

Using an energy assessment grant, Jean-Pierre paid $13,640 for an energy audit to work out how to reduce their energy consumption.

As predicted, the audit report identified the gas ovens as the major energy culprit and made recommendations to reduce heat loss.

The company applied for a gas efficiency grant to help cover the cost of installing four air curtains around the ovens. They also upgraded two ovens and tuned the burners.

Over the year, the company has saved $13,500 or about 10% on their gas bill. They expect to save more over time as they continue to improve their gas-burning equipment.

“The energy savings weren’t as high as anticipated,” explained Jean-Pierre. “But the audit really motivated us to find other ways to run the business more sustainably.”

Spin-off savings

“We ended up saving an extra $20,000 a year from a spin-off idea to convert leftover powder waste into counterweights that can be used in our ovens, in place of steel ones.”
This initiative has reduced powder waste going to landfill by 60% and the company is buying 60% less new counterweight steel. It’s also saving 30 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions each year.

Sustainability is a selling point

These sustainability improvements have become a point of distinction for the business.
“Our customers have acknowledged our efforts to manufacture as sustainably as possible. We get a great deal of positive feedback on social media.

“Both projects took longer than expected, but the extra time was very manageable and very much worth it. Our staff all recognise the benefits to the environment and have embraced these programs with pride.”

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