Volvo Group North America: High Efficiency Infrared Heating at Volvo Group’s Mack Trucks Assembly Plant in Macungie, PA


Volvo Group NA, in the process of implementing an Energy Management System as part of its participation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Superior Energy Performance program, identified building HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) as a Significant Energy Use at its Macungie, Pennsylvania plant. The forced-air/hot water system was responsible for approximately 24% of the building’s energy consumption. Based on the success of high efficiency infrared heaters at the New River Valley plant in Virginia, Volvo Group completed a study on the feasibility of replacing the hot water-based system at their Macungie plant in Pennsylvania. The investigation concluded that implementing a radiant heat project was a sound financial investment. Additionally, the investigation estimated plant-wide energy reductions to be about 8.5%, including a 97% reduction in electricity and a 35% reduction in gas used for space heating. The significant reduction in electricity use is due to the reduction in electricity use by supply air fans and hot water pumps typically used in traditional hot water-based system. 


The one million square-foot Macungie, Pennsylvania plant located just outside of Allentown, installed a new radiant heat system. The system uses radiant heat transfer, also known as infrared heating, which transfers heat directly from a hot surface to the room through radiation. The comfort condition is created by direct radiation from the heater, re-radiation from floor or machinery on the floor that absorbs energy, and convection from higher temperature surrounding air to occupants.

The Macungie, Pennsylvania Plant has two cab and two chassis assembly lines, a Customer Adaptation Center, engine groom line and much more. The entire line of MACK® trucks is assembled at the Lehigh Valley Operations plant (wholly owned).  All of Mack’s EPA2010-certified trucks (Titan by Mack, Granite™, Pinnacle™ and TerraPro™) for North America are built there, as well as Mack models for export to other markets around the world.



Radiant heating offers flexibility among heat technologies, as radiant panels can be individually controlled for individual production or non-production areas. This quick response feature results in substantial cost and energy savings for infrequently occupied facility areas. Altogether, Macungie plant installed 123 gas fired infrared heaters to replace the capacity of the preexisting hot water/forced air system. The six additional heaters installed helped remedy cool spots in the building. The majority of the project was completed in 2013, with work continuing through 2014. Volvo Group decided on Infrared heating because tends to be more efficient than baseboard heating and forced-air heating, as it eliminates duct losses. Additionally, the hot water tubing radiant system also experiences energy loss through its coils. Regarding the infrared heating, it is very important to properly control the operation of the system to achieve energy savings. Reducing temperature during unoccupied hours can significantly increase energy savings. It is also recommended that any override controls return the system to its “occupied” setting rather than to “full on” during override.   



Along with the roof heat losses, the gas fired infrared heating project also reduced temperature stratification in production buildings.


Annual Energy Use

11.9 MMBTU/Truck
Actual (2015)
10.9 MMBTU/Truck

Energy Savings:


Annual Energy Cost

Actual (2015)

Cost Savings:


Sector Type



Macungie, Pennsylvania

Project Size

One million square feet

Financial Overview

Approximately $900,000

Workstations heated with gas fired infrared heaters. Radiant heating is ideal for areas with high ceilings and high air change, as the radiant heater have a very quick response time.
Macungie Plant Gas Fired Infrared Heaters