Put the freeze on energy waste: Smith Frozen Foods’ sustainability journey

Put the freeze on energy waste: Smith Frozen Foods’ sustainability journey

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Smiths has completed 37 energy efficiency projects within the last 10 years. Their incentivized capital projects have hit nearly every major industrial energy system, including compressed air, refrigeration compressors, condensers, evaporators, HVAC, lighting, pumping, completely revamping their refrigeration systems, resulting in nearly 11 million annual kWh of estimated savings – and counting.

Spearheading Smith’s energy efficiency operations are Gary Crowder, president of Smith’s Frozen Foods; Ron Knapp, primary project developer of refrigeration; and Ken Tombarge, general supervising electrician. They have coordinated technical assistance, project development strategies and design for Smith’s energy-efficiency projects, working with Energy Trust’s team utilizing their expertise and resources. Over the past 10 years, Smiths has received more than $2 million in Energy Trust incentives that helped make this long list of projects pencil out for the company.

Considering their longstanding commitment, it was only natural that when asked about Smith Frozen Foods and their relationship with energy efficiency, Tombarge didn’t hesitate to praise the team’s constant efforts to find new projects, highlighting the fluent dynamic and open-door policy that the managerial side of the company implements with staff members. Reflecting perfectly on their partnership with Energy Trust, where both sides see each other as allies pushing for the same cause.

“The team at Smith Frozen Foods is always looking for new energy-saving opportunities in our facility, and then participating in the installations needed to make the opportunities convert into energy savings.  I appreciate the innovation these team members can cultivate,”.

Behind every energy efficiency effort at Smiths, there is an undeniable desire to help on multiple levels. Starting with the sustainability goals that so many other enterprises have committed themselves to all around the world, passing through the symbiotic relationship that they have developed with Energy Trust and their mission, and holding a special place for their staff and community; since every completed project helps the company to ease the workload on their staff, and showcases time and time again how beneficial it is to have a work environment in which everyone’s voices are not only heard, but appreciated, creating the atmosphere of solidarity that surrounds the facility.

In the last decade, the team at Smiths has been remarkable in three aspects of their involvement with sustainability, manifesting their resolve with every step taken in these particular fields.

Compressed Air Expansion Project

Smith Frozen Foods focused on a compressed air expansion in 2022, upgrading from four small independently controlled air compressors to a single 200 HP high-efficiency, two-stage air compressor equipped with Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) controls. This improved the ability of the system to respond to varying demands, resulting in a nearly $53,000 incentive and increasing their savings by approximately 248,000 kWh per year.

Strategic Energy Management Project

In 2014, Smith Frozen Foods enrolled in their first year of Strategic Energy Management (SEM), following it up with two more years of engagement in 2017 and 2018. Combined with support from Energy Trust technical assistance and project development, Smiths was able to reduce their compressor energy use by 11%, implementing compressed air management and lowering air pressure by approximately 22 PSI. The 2018 engagement included a leak repair program that helped strengthen Smith’s compressed air system, fixed controls on high-speed doors to reduce heat infiltration into refrigerated spaces and implemented a standard operating procedure to keep the ammonia refrigeration system free of contaminants. Overall, Smith’s engagement in SEM has helped them save 257,000 kWh per year, receiving $5,000 in Energy Trust cash incentives.

Refrigeration Project

Having completed 14 refrigeration projects since 2014, Smith Frozen Food has upgraded every aspect of their refrigeration system in one way or another. These upgrades have had a major impact on the overall performance and versatility of the system, saving nearly 9 million kWh per year and receiving $1.4 million in cash incentives.

In 2021 Smith’s completed its most ambitious project to date with new freezer tunnels and conveyance system, reducing fan load through VFD controls, eliminating moisture from the product prior to and while in the freezer tunnel, tunnel consolidation, and blower elimination. This project alone saved them 2.3 million kWh, representing 13% of their total savings in the past 20 years, as well as 20% of their total incentives received.

Smith’s Frozen Foods has come a long way on their energy-efficiency journey, but the most remarkable aspect of Smith’s accomplishments is that anyone could achieve the same results when maximizing their energy-efficiency efforts.

“During my tenure with Smith’s Frozen Foods, I have had the opportunity to work closely with Energy Trust… The team at Energy Trust has consistently demonstrated unparalleled commitment to facilitating energy-saving projects ranging from guidance on equipment procurement to recommendations for relevant programs and service providers. Their focused emphasis on energy conservation has exceeded expectations with positive results.”

Concluded Knapp whilst remembering his years of work at Smith’s and their alliance with Energy Trust.

To learn more about how Energy Trust can help you reduce operating expenses with Operations and Maintenance improvements, call 1.866.202.0576 or email production@energytrust.org