Industrial Assessment Center’s finds successful niche
In 2006, when the University of Missouri’s Industrial Assessment Center (MoIAC) first opened its doors in Columbia, Director Bin Wu, a professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, foresaw success — but that “success” has now developed into a reputation that has benefitted companies and the MoIAC program alike.
MoIAC is one of 26 centers across the nation funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a resource and service center for industrial energy efficiency.
Wu, Assistant Director Sanjeev Khanna, an associate professor in mechanical and aerospace engineering, and the MoIAC student team conduct energy assessments of manufacturers around the state to determine areas that can be modified to save money. Some of the most common areas of energy waste include lighting, heating and air conditioning, as well as other various electronic functions.
But what began as a five-year program grant is now recognized as a well-established and legitimate statewide service.
According to the latest DOE statistics, MU’s IAC ranks sixth, out of the 26 centers across the nation in the amount of actual reduction achieved through industrial implementation of energy saving measures.
Because of their success, a team of DOE representatives made a visit in early October to discuss previous and future efforts.
Since its establishment, the center has conducted more than 60 assessments to manufacturing plants in Missouri.
In a recent audit at the Quaker Oats factory in Columbia, company representative Ryan Reed said the MoIAC came up with $500,000 in annual savings with a total of 11 recommendations.
“They had several tools that we don’t normally have available to us, such as thermal imaging cameras and ultra-sonic leak detectors, which really helped find areas for improvement,” Reed said.
According to the DOE, a small-to-medium-sized company that participates in IAC audits saves an average of $55,000 each year.
Benefitting equally from the program are the students who are involved with the center. In the past two years, five of Wu’s industrial engineering students have moved to energy efficiency leadership positions within their businesses or organizations.
“We have exposed hundreds of students to real-life experiences that have given them tools to start their own energy initiatives,” Wu said.