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The Fast Track to a More Efficient Work Environment - Columbia Lighting

Gunderson, a subsidiary of Greenbrier Companies

Project Type: Lighting Retrofit

Type of Facility: Manufacturing

Location: Portland, Oregon

Project Challenge – Improve the Efficiency of Operations

The Greenbrier Companies is an international supplier of equipment and services to the freight rail transportation markets. It designs, builds and markets freight railcars, tank cars, rail castings and marine barges, and provides wheel services, parts, leasing, freight railcar repair, refurbishment and retrofitting services to the railroad and related transportation industries. Greenbrier owns a lease fleet of more than 9,000 railcars and performs management services for 268,000-plus railcars.

Greenbrier’s Gunderson facility in Portland, Oregon, is its flagship manufacturing facility for marine barges and rail cars. The massive 58-acre plant is made up of more than 875,000 square feet of manufacturing floor space under multiple roofs.

At its peak, more than 1391 employees are on the floor. Lighting conditions at this facility had deteriorated to the point where light levels ranged from 13 to 36 foot-candles, a unit of illumination equal to that given by a source of one candela at a distance of one foot. It wasn’t uncommon to see a significant number of light fixtures out of commission and yellow lamps intermingled with those that were white. Employees frequently complained about shadows that made it difficult to perform their job. To operate at peak efficiency, the lighting needed to achieve an even 50 foot candles throughout the facility.

The issue with the quality of light was beginning to trigger additional concerns.

Research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics shows that, “the quality of lighting can have a positive impact on reducing the risk of the primary causes of occupational injuries.” The safety and security of its employees were of the utmost importance to ownership, and they realized better lighting would decrease the likelihood of accidents.

While the process for swapping out lamps and light fixtures might appear to be simple, at a facility like this it was a logistical challenge. The proven longevity of LEDs was appealing to ownership and they were optimistic they could identify an opportunity to decrease energy use, even though the lights at the facility are never turned off.

Read the entire Case Study here.

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