Combining state-of-the-art LED technology and automated equipment to grow food in urban areas.
The planet has lost some 40 per cent of its arable land over the past few decades, and we’re rapidly depleting the rest. The farmers at We the Roots grow leafy greens for chefs like O&B’s Anthony Walsh in a hydroponic, automated vertical farm just off the DVP, using less space to cultivate more food year round. They’re boosted by some out-of-this-world technology from the University of Guelph, where researchers are developing plants that can thrive in hostile environments like Mars. The trick is tailored LED light combinations: scientists can tweak the lights’ colour and intensity to alter the nutrients, growth and even flavour profile of arugula, chicory and kale.
Source: Toronto Life, Photo by Derek Shapton
For most manufacturers, their single greatest expense is labour – their second is energy costs. With the globalization of manufacturing causing increased competition and price pressure, North American manufacturers need to look at optimizing efficiency and cutting costs to remain competitive.
Many companies have undertaken initiatives to implement plant wide energy management strategies. For some companies in Ontario, there are programs offered such as the IESO, that offer incentives to lower energy costs in companies of all sizes. But there are some easy solutions to wasted energy that you can look at now.
New lighting technologies are available on the market today that significantly reduce the costs associated with lighting you facility. Modern buildings are built with LED and induction lighting as a standard, and have the benefit of quick start-up time as well as energy savings. If LED lighting is not something you’re interested in, you could always consider replacing your metal halide bulbs with more efficient T8 florescent bulbs. Other measures to save cost on lighting is to install sensors or automatic shut-offs, to only have the lights on in areas that are being used.
Speaking at an energy round table discussion, the maintenance manager at a division of Linamar Corp. in Guelph, Ont. spoke about his experience with energy savings by monitoring and fixing leaks in their compressed air systems. “We tabulated the potential savings and created a business plan, and as soon as management saw the numbers they went for it. In my facility—it’s only a 120,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility—we managed to curtail about a $70,000 loss.”
Another way to decrease overall energy consumption is to replace old legacy technologies with more modern, high efficient solutions. Many companies are in the position where most of the production lines in their plant are old and nearing end-of-life. By investing in new equipment, companies benefit by investing energy tax incentives into capital equipment, while seeing a reduction of operating costs.
To remain competitive, companies require unprecedented amount of information at their disposal. Regular examinations and reviews of energy consumption and operations costs will help lower energy costs while having the added benefit of cutting down on the environmental impact of manufacturing operations.