General Motors And L’Oréal USA SWAP Energy Advice

The U.S. DOE has released the fourth installment of its Better Buildings Challenge SWAP program, with this edition sharing insight into two industrial facilities.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has released the fourth installment of its “Better Buildings Challenge SWAP” — this season featuring General Motors and L’Oréal USA. In this online video series, two organizations swap energy management teams to gain new insights, save money and improve the energy performance of their industrial facilities. The result is an informative, behind the scenes look at what it takes to improve manufacturing competitiveness through energy efficiency.

Hosted by Maria T. Vargas, Director of the U.S. DOE Better Buildings Challenge, SWAP launched in 2016 featuring Hilton Worldwide and Whole Foods Market, followed by the U.S. Air Force Academy facing off against the U.S. Naval Academy in SWAP 2. In 2017, SWAP 3 launched featuring the Cities of Boston and Atlanta swapping energy teams.

Through the Better Buildings Challenge SWAP, DOE has partnered with private-sector businesses and public-sector organizations to explore ways to reduce their energy use and improve their productivity. The webisodes are an engaging, behind the scenes look at leaders in action and demonstrate the value of sharing ideas and best practices.

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Better Buildings Challenge SWAP Season 4 participants — GM Little Rock plant participants (left) and L’Oréal USA plant participants (right)

Sharing Energy Management Insights

In North Little Rock, AR, L’Oréal USA handed over the reins of its largest cosmetics plant to the General Motors team. They explored the manufacturing lines for powders, mascara, lip gloss, and nail polish, hunting for chances to improve efficiency through better monitoring of air leaks, optimizing heating, and more. Along with their improvement opportunities, the General Motors team also walked away with new ideas for making energy efficiency more personal for employees, inspired by L’Oréal USA’s employee engagement initiatives, including the solar stanchions named for each of the more than 300 employees in the North Little Rock facility’s 1.2 MW solar array.

“Having GM visit was a bit intimidating in the beginning, but it was a pleasure to get their insights on where we can improve and introduce them to some of our successes,” said Carlos Ruiz Rabago, Senior Vice President Manufacturing North America, L’Oréal. “I’m proud of the work we have done to make innovative energy efficiency improvements and build a culture of sustainability, and I think they were inspired too.”

Meanwhile, in Detroit, MI, The L’Oréal USA team took the keys to General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant where the Chevrolet Volt and Impala, Cadillac CT6, and Buick LaCrosse are made. The L’Oréal USA team uncovered opportunities to improve, like shutting down compressed air systems on the production line at the end of the day. After seeing General Motors in action, the L’Oréal USA team plans to adapt the automaker’s process for energy efficiency treasure hunts, and looks forward to implementing similar tactics across its plants.

“L’Oréal’s visit was a little daunting at first,” said Al Hildreth, Global Energy Manager, General Motors. “It’s easy to walk into someone else’s plant and start pointing out the flaws, but it takes a little getting used to when the critical eye is on you. I think both teams recognized a lot of similarities in how we operate and built some mutual respect. Along with getting L’Oréal’s insights, we were able to show them some innovative approaches to resource monitoring and management that we use here at Detroit-Hamtramck. I’m confident both of our operations have been improved by the SWAP experience.”

Diving Deeper

Here at Facility Executive, we had the opportunity to pose a few questions to GM’s Hildreth, and we also asked Eric Fox, L’Oréal USA’s North Little Rock plant manager for additional comments:

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Al Hildreth, Global Energy Manager, General Motors

FE: Al, why did your company decide to participate in the Better Buildings SWAP Challenge?

Hildreth: General Motors has committed to reducing energy use per vehicle produced by 20% by 2020. Between 2010 and 2017, the company has reduced energy by 14%. We have used energy treasure hunts as a continuous improvement tool at our global operations for more than 10 years. We value best practice sharing, both inside and outside of the company, and we don’t declare success until we share lessons learned with others. The DOE’s Better Buildings SWAP Challenge was another opportunity to learn from a global leader in manufacturing and energy management.

FE: How did your team expect this experience to impact the company’s existing energy efficiency programs and achievements?

Hildreth: At GM we appreciate diversity of thought and experiences. Continuous improvement is a part of our culture and necessary for our energy reduction goals. We were excited to see how L’Oréal approached energy management and to take back a few good tips. We weren’t disappointed. We will be leveraging a number of their suggestions and plan to learn more about their employee engagement efforts.

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Eric Fox, L’Oréal USA’s North Little Rock, AR Plant Manager

FE: Eric, why did Loreal USA decide to participate in the Better Buildings SWAP Challenge?

Fox: Since joining the Better Buildings program in 2015,L’Oréal USA has benefitted from the opportunity to learn and share best practices with other companies facing similar energy challenges. We were excited to be selected by the Department of Energy as a leader in energy efficiency and paired in the SWAP Challenge with a company as accomplished as General Motors. AtL’Oréal, we strive to continuously improve and the SWAP Challenge gave us the chance to gain new insights from GM’s team of energy experts. We are very proud of the work we have done and to be able to showcase our energy efficiency innovations and the culture of sustainability we have cultivated among our employees. The program also allowed us to demonstrate how important sustainability is to our business and encourage other companies who may be considering energy upgrades to move forward.

FE: How did your team expect this experience to impact the company’s existing energy efficiency programs and achievements?

Fox: We hoped the SWAP Challenge would help validate the energy efficiency improvements we have undertaken at our manufacturing sites as well as the caliber of our employee engagement on sustainability. We also sought to learn from GM’s energy experts and identify opportunities to improve and accelerate our progress towards achieving our sustainability goals.

Both L’Oréal USA and General Motors are partners in the Better Buildings, Better Plants Program. To date, nearly 200 industrial and water utility partners have partnered with DOE in this effort. Partners represent roughly 12% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, amounting to 2,900 facilities in all 50 states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico. Better Plants partners have reported estimated cumulative energy cost savings of more than $4.2 billion. Watch the SWAP on the Better Buildings Challenge website.