Volvo Group Heads to ORNL for Energy Network North America

By Better Plants Team on Jun 26, 2018

The Volvo Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment and marine and industrial engines. In the U.S. its subsidiary, Volvo Group North America, which includes Mack Trucks, has committed itself to improving competitiveness through energy efficiency. The Group also has two remanufacturing plants in the U.S.; preparing engines, transmission and other parts for a second life represents enormous value for the environment. The company met its first goal in the Better Plants Challenge in 2014, five yeaTour of ARCONIC facility in Knoxville, Tennesseers ahead of schedule, and doubled down with an ambitious new goal of 25% more in savings by 2024. To achieve such success, Volvo has leveraged the program’s resources, having four in-plant trainings and multiple IAC assessments. 

A new way the Volvo Group decided to leverage Better Plants took place in May of this year. Volvo Group organized its Energy Network North America Meeting (VENNA) at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL), bringing some of its energy management staff from 8 manufacturing facilities and 6 Prevost service centers to one of the epicenters of innovation and technology. The meeting at ORNL focused on Volvo’s 2017 Better Plants annual energy performance reporting activities, baselining analysis, and plant level performance tracking. ORNL staff scientists Sachin Nimbalkar and Thomas Wenning introduced Volvo staff to some of the Energy Department’s programs that might be of interest, including 50001 Ready, the program for facilities to establish an energy management system and self-attest to the structure of ISO 50001. During the discussions, Volvo members shared details of the company’s energy management status, and discussed their 2018 energy efficiency action plan.

Oak Ridge National Lab is the largest science and energy national laboratory in the Department of Energy system by surface and by annual budget. Home to the world's most powerful supercomputer, ORNL pioneers the development of new energy sources, technologies, and materials and the advancement of knowledge in the biological, chemical, computational, engineering, environmental, physical, and social sciences. This meeting provided a great opportunity to showcase Oak Ridge’s capabilities, but also for Volvo to provide a valuable industry perspective and field validation to DOE’s activities. The Volvo Group team was given tours of the Distributed Energy Communications and Controls (DECC) Laboratory and Building Technologies Research & Integration Center (BTRIC). While giving a tour of the DECC Lab, ORNL scientists explained how they are testing the new dynamic voltage and power factor controls supplied from Distributed Energy (DE) resources and have expanded the lab for microgrid control and communications testing. A tour of the BTRIC provided an overview on multi-zone environmental chambers, building envelope research, ultrasonic drying technology, and advanced refrigerant research work. At the end of the day, ORNL provided visitors a tour of the X-10 Graphite Reactor at ORNL, which was the world’s second artificial nuclear reactor, and the first designed and built for continuous operation.

But being a part of Better Plants doesn’t just help you access game-changing innovation and state of the art facilities. Better Plants also is a broad community of partners, committing to sharing solutions on energy reduction. While in Tennessee, Tom and Sachin facilitated a tour of a plant belonging to Arconic, another Better Plants partner, formerly part of ALCOA. Adam Vucelich, Director of Arconic’s Energy Services, provided an overview of Arconic’s Energy Intelligence System, a platform used to track energy performance on a facility as well as corporate level. In addition, other Arconic staff shared their environmental, safety, and health best practices with the Volvo team.

Meetings like this are available to all Better Plants members; partners should work with their Technical Account Manager to set something up.

Captions: Top right - Demo on ultrasonic drying technology and advanced refrigerant research work; Top left - Tour of ARCONIC facility in Knoxville, Tennessee; Middle right - Brian Fricke (Group Leader for Building Equipment Research Group, ORNL) provided visitors a tour of the X-10 Graphite Reactor at ORNL, which was the world’s second artificial nuclear reactor, and the first designed and built for continuous operation; Middle left - Volvo Group receiving the tour of Building Technologies Research & Integration Center (BTRIC) and info on building envelope research; Bottom - Volvo Group receiving the tour of Distributed Energy Communications and Controls (DECC) Laboratory