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Engineering student finds savings in energy costs

The Smith’s Snackfood Company energy saving project with CEED has proved fruitful, with the results of the work showing areas where savings can be found in energy costs.

The Smiths Snackfood Company.Douglas Hyde (CEED student) onsite during his project.2010 
 Douglas Hyde (CEED student - final year Mechanical Engineering)
 on-site at The Smith's Snackfood Company's Tingalpa plant,
 during his project

From July - November 2010, QUT student Douglas Hyde, who is completing a Bachelor of Engineering majoring in Mechanical Engineering, performed an energy audit for The Smith’s Snackfood Company plant at Tingalpa.  This is the company’s largest plant operating in Australia and employing approximately 400 people.  

The project involved recording data about every electricity and natural gas user on the site, including lights, motors, compressors and boilers. With the information gathered, recommendations on energy saving opportunities on the site will be researched and presented to Smith’s by Douglas.

“Energy costs represent a significant expenditure for The Smith’s Snackfood Company Tingalpa as a production site.  Once we interpret the Energy Profile, we know it will provide guidance on where to focus efforts to reduce the usage of both electricity and gas,” said Phil Brenton, Smith’s environmental manager and Douglas’ co-supervisor.

“Using the preliminary outcomes from the model, Douglas identified a number of key activities such as the production of compressed air, heating and air conditioning and lighting as areas which consume reasonable amounts of electricity.

In the final stages of his project, “Douglas was keen to do some research into technologies that could be used to reduce this consumption as part of his thesis.  We hope to be able to use some of these ideas and if feasible and proven, they may even be implemented down the track,” said Phil.

Throughout the project Douglas said that he gained a valuable insight into the running of a manufacturing plant, including project management and firsthand real experience of the life of an engineer.   

“I think CEED will definitely help me with my future job prospects. Employers are looking for employees with experience in engineering and CEED gives that to students while they are still at university. Working on a CEED project shows employers that you are capable of a high standard of work. It's also a good way to get connections in engineering,” said Douglas.

The Smith’s Snackfood Company employed a CEED student several years ago, who was also involved in the initial version of the site’s Energy Profile as well as a site water map. 

“The student did an excellent job developing these tools which have proved useful in the last few years to communicate to our employees about the more significant areas of energy consumption at the site,” said Phil.  

“Due to the addition of a number of process lines and the commissioning of a new effluent treatment plant to generate recycled water for reuse in the production plant, the Energy Profile needed updating.  Whilst the Profile is a useful tool, it does take a lot of time and energy to construct, so there was an opportunity to get some extra resources to develop the Profile.

“CEED coordinated all the behind-the-scenes processes and this allowed us to get Douglas on board easily,” said Phil.

“We ran an orientation / induction program to introduce Douglas to a number of the key site staff he needed to work with to collect the information for the model and demonstrated the operation of various equipment.  This had the benefit of exposing Douglas to the different types of activities that occur across the production site and hopefully enriched his learning experience,” said Phil.


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