Jump to Navigation


Feature this resource?: 

The Challenge:

Considered the largest single production site in the Northern Hemisphere with well over 2-million square feet, the Quad Graphics printed materials plant in Lomira, Wisconsin, has to be extremely conscientious about their natural gas usage.

“Our boilers are all on usage permits with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and we have to keep an accurate record of how much natural gas we burn per month,” says Kerry Lawonn, Building Services Manager for the Lomira facility. “Variable gas pressures and temperatures, and short pipe lengths make it very difficult to be accurate.”

“To make things even more interesting, we are also on interruptible service with the gas company, which means we can only use so many cubic feet of gas on those particular days,” continued Lawonn. “Since most of our gas is used for production, we had some serious concerns about usage and boiler efficiency. You pay a mighty big penalty if you go over – usually 4- to 5-times the normal price.”

If either the pressure or the temperature of the gas varies, and the measuring device is not compensated for these changes, errors greater than +/- 5% can occur rather easily.

“This plant’s typical gas bill is upwards of $200,000 per month, so a $5,000 to $10,000 swing is a really big deal,” says Lawonn. “The original permits with the DNR indicated our run hours at 100% — we never run at 100%. We wanted to make permit changes but the flow meters we had on the boilers were not giving us an accurate measure of our natural gas usage. We needed to do something NOW so we turned to Industrial Controls.”

The Solution:

“Industrial Controls worked with me and our electricians, and within a 24-hour turnaround, we installed fully calibrated pressure and temperature compensated flow meters that fed accurate information directly into a computer program indicating how many cubic feet of natural gas we were using,” says Lawonn. “The folks at Industrial Controls always come back with solutions.”
The engineered solution provided was the Honeywell SMV (SMart-Variable) transmitters designed to do internal mass flow calculations using pressure and temperature input signals from sensors in the gas pipes. The resultant output is a 4-20mA current signal representing a fully compensated and highly accurate flow measurement.

“We’re now able to provide accurate reports to the DNR and we’re also tracking our energy usage, which allows us to run our boilers more efficiently. We know with certainty how much gas each and every boiler is using,” adds Lawonn. “When we go on interrupted service, we can watch our usage on the computer monitor and can actually slow down the production process in order to stay within prescribed parameters.”

“The electricians who work directly with the Honeywell instrumentation like that they’re programmable, easy to fix, and have reprogrammable sensor heads – we don’t need a shelf-full of heads in inventory. We like them to the point that we’ve been converting other sensors over to Honeywell.”

“Quad Graphics has a long-term relationship with Industrial Controls. They consistently go out of their way to come up with solutions – solutions that work!” concludes Lawonn. “They’ve worked with us on lots of other projects here in Lomira, provided their engineering expertise during the construction of our West Virginia plant, and have assisted us with our new plant in Oklahoma. We get honest answers from Industrial Controls – that’s why we keep going back!

Main menu 2