Oregon cabinet maker takes the heat off energy waste

Elkay Wood Products Company manufactures high-end residential kitchen and bath cabinetry under the Medallion brand, which is fabricated at its plant in Independence, Ore. The integration of an innovative new technology in its cabinet finishing operation resulted in lower production costs and significant energy savings, and also earned them recognition as an industrial innovator with an Oregon Leaders Award.

The Elkay factories were using conventional spraying techniques to apply finish material onto cabinets. A vendor introduced the company to a new finishing technology, which improves the spray process to reduce material waste and uses localized heat applied at the proper time and only in the amount needed. Once installed, the equipment not only reduced an overspray problem and minimized material waste, but it reduced energy consumption as less heat was needed from infrared ovens used to cure the finished product.

“As we got into the technology more deeply, we found we reduced production costs, reduced material waste, improved finish quality, and reduced environmental impacts and electrical consumption—all while improving the quality of the product,” said Tyler Kuenzi, manufacturing engineer, Elkay. “All of these things have helped this site be profitable and operate in a difficult economic environment.”

Energy Trust provided Elkay with $85,108 in cash incentives toward the cost of the energy-saving improvements, which are estimated to save more than 340,341 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. “The incentives definitely made an impact on our decision to go forward because they reduced the project payback to less than one year,” said Kuenzi.