NLMK Steel Mill Improves Savings as it Installs More Dialight Luminaires

The facility now called NLMK PA is among oldest steel mills in the U.S. The mill has been in continuous operation since the 1890s. In fact, the plant in Sharon, Pennsylvania is the birthplace of stainless steel. The mill produces about 1.1 million tons of steel per year. Now, the enormous 350-acre site provides hot mill reheating, pickling, and cold-rolling for steel that ultimately ends up in construction, automotive, heavy equipment, as well as pipes and tubes.

The massive site is a perfect place for an LED luminaires.The facility needed to replace over 10,000 HID lights including HPS, mercury vapor, fluorescent, and incandescent. So far about 5,000 lights have been replaced and the project is just 40 percent complete.

NLMK PA Needs Illumination 24/7

The industrial facility had to be well-illuminated 24/7. More than 10,000 lights had to be replaced throughout warehouse, production, and inspection areas, along roadways, waterways, and in parking lots in addition to security lighting on the facility’s perimeter. Just 6 years ago, the entire facility used a mix of conventional HID lights, including high-pressure sodium and mercury vapor, with a few fluorescent lights in essential areas.

Luxeon High Power
NLMK plant replaces HID lights with Dialight Vigilant High Bays

NLMK plant replaces HID lights with Dialight Vigilant High Bays

Electrical crews were continuously bogged down with lighting maintenance tasks due to both the heavy industrial environment and the failure-prone nature of the HID bulbs and fixtures.

“If we got two years out of the lights, we were happy, but they were very dim,” said Jeff Stidham, NLMK facilities maintenance manager at the site. “Changing the bulbs was extremely difficult and required that we take production equipment and cranes offline, which cut severely into plant operations.”

Stidham began investigating LED lighting as an alternative to the conventional HIDs. He invited several companies to run a 6-8 month trials with test fixtures throughout the plant.

Among the several products tested, industrial LED lighting firm Dialight, rose to the top, primarily because of its rugged, durable
fixtures and it’s extended, full-performance warranty.

“Dialight was hands-down our top pick,” Stidham said. “We especially liked the heavy duty aspect of the fixtures, because we needed something that could hold up to the steel mill environment. This is where Dialight blew everyone out of the water.”

Also with their much higher CRI, the Dialight LEDs luminaires produced a much more natural color, tremendously improving visibility, particularly for troubleshooting and product quality inspection. Finally, Dialight’s broad product portfolio ensured a streamlined supply chain management. The portfolio reportedly allows NLMK to source all of its fixtures to suit a wide range of needs.

About 40% Conversion Completed

At the start of the conversion project now in its sixth year, NLMK worked with Advanced Controls & Distribution near Pittsburgh and placed an initial order of 800 Dialight LED High Bays for its hot mill area. Stidham estimates the facility has converted about 40% of its lights to Dialight LED luminaires, with a total fixture count that neared about 5,000 Dialight LEDs luminaires installed.

So far, according to Stidham, the plant has already saved at least $50,000 annually on maintenance alone. And Stidham says it could be as much as $100,000. The energy savings has only increased as NLMK continues to add more LED lights. In addition, the plant no longer has to stockpile hundreds of bulbs and ballasts for the old, failure-prone fixtures, freeing up substantial store room space.

“In 2015 alone, we purchased 2,500 lights. We still have a long way to go, but we’re already seeing tremendous cost savings and a drop in our kilowatt-hour consumption that could only be attributable to the new lights, and much less burden on our maintenance staff,” he said. “It used to be that on any given day, someone somewhere in this plant was always working on the lights. We’ve seen that cut dramatically by about 50%.”

Dialight High Bay and Area Lights Have Become NLMK Favorites

In some areas, the new High Bays delivered such a visibility improvement compared to the older HPS fixtures, that the plant could replace two HPS units with one Dialight High Bay.

In addition to the mass quantity of High Bays installed so far in the rolling and other production areas, Stidham says
their other “favorite” fixture are the 70W Area Lights. After merely 4 months in place, the Area Lights have demonstrated enough savings to prompt the second largest retrofit project in the plant, a street lighting upgrade using nearly 400 Dialight StreetSense fixtures.

“The street lighting and perimeter lighting have been a major upgrade. We used to have electricians on the road every day to change streetlight bulbs, so this has been a huge savings in man-hours, not to mention the reduced electricity consumption,” Stidham said. “It’s also helped improve plant security. We have 130 HD cameras in place, and the upgraded lighting gives us images that are like day and night compared to the old fixtures. The security department wants them everywhere now. We’re getting there—we still have about 50% of our exterior lighting to replace.”

Other Dialight Fixtures Installed

Linear fixtures installed above each cold rolling inspection table, grant greatly improved visual clarity compared to the previous fluorescent fixtures. The RTO jelly-jar type of fixtures placed in the hazardous zones within the oil cellars near production equipment replaced incandescent fixtures.

As the retrofit project continues, Stidham says, “Now that LED has caught on, we have multiple vendors trying to sell us lights,
but the Dialight product sells itself,” he said. “Everyone wants the new LEDs in their work area, and there’s no talk of any
other type of light going in here.”