Fully Integrated LED Lighting Control System Brings Maximum Savings, Durability, and Productivity


Customer: Ashland Foundry & Machine
Location: Ashland, PA
Facility Size: 215,000 ft2 (19,974 m2)
Operating Schedule: 24 x 7
Savings: 85% lighting
Environment: Manufacturing
Installation: Retrofit of 400 W and 1,000 W metal halides
Partner: Smart Start Lighting

Located in Ashland, Pennsylvania, Ashland Foundry & Machine Works, Inc. (AFMW) has been a leading manufacturer of castings and machined products since 1881. Operating as an independent foundry, AFMW is committed to continuous improvement, safety, and customer satisfaction. The foundry continually reinvests in technology and equipment, enabling them to produce over 50 different steel, chrome iron, and high alloy metals ranging in size from 50 to 7,500 lbs. Other services include an in-house pattern shop, heat treatment, painting, fabrication, and assembly.

Spurred by 2013 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection policy, the AFMW management team evaluated all energy consumption within the foundry and identified lighting as a significant opportunity for energy savings. At the time, the facility operated with 400 W and 1,000 W metal halides running 24/7.

“Originally, we looked into replacing our lighting with T8 or compound fluorescents. In addition to inadequate wattage reduction, we found that we would need to purchase many additional components, such as add-on sensors, in order to make these lights efficient,” said Alden Roberts, Facilities Superintendent at AFMW. “It wasn’t until we started working with a lighting solutions provider that we realized LED lighting with integrated controls would be the most efficient solution.”

Looking Beyond LED

Smart Start Lighting, providers of turnkey LED lighting solutions, worked with the AFMW team to identify a one-stop solution that would improve the brightness and light distribution in the facility, while maximizing savings long-term. Additionally, Smart Start investigated utility rebates in the area to determine the availability and lighting requirements, and then managed the application. Understanding the unique challenges for foundries and machine shops, the Smart Start team knew LEDs alone would not deliver the energy savings to support the foundry’s goals.

“In a facility that pours an average of 30,000 lbs of molten metal each night, there’s a higher standard for equipment durability and performance,” said Colin Kelly, Member/CEO of Smart Start Lighting. “It could not be just any LED luminaire. This facility needed a quality LED luminaire — rugged enough to withstand harsh conditions, powerful enough to provide high light levels for workspaces, and versatile enough to simply augment lighting settings anytime, anywhere.”

One Intelligent Solution

Smart Start Lighting recommended and implemented a lighting solution – Digital Lumens’ Intelligent LED Lighting System. This fully integrated solution included smart LED-based luminaires (DLE 24,000 and 48,000 lumen output high bays) all wirelessly networked and centrally managed via LightRules® lighting and energy management software. The system brought AFMW unmatched results, which:

  • Saved 85% in annual kWh, cutting the foundry’s electricity bill by $85,652 a year
  • Increased productivity by eliminating lighting maintenance downtime and saving $2,408 in annual service expenses
  • Doubled light levels to provide functional, high-quality light for workers
  • Isolated areas within the foundry and machine shop for task-specific lighting settings
  • Utilized integrated sensors to detect traffic patterns, and optimize lighting profiles for improved efficiency and productivity


Moreover, the Smart Start team managed all aspects of the rebate application process, securing a $109,000 incentive from PPL Electric Utilities, and less than a two-year simple payback on the retrofit project.

Alden Roberts explained, “The Digital Lumens system is simple, yet highly efficient. Wattage reduction showed us the savings potential with LEDs, but what really drove home the savings was the LightRules integrated control software.”


Lighting Challenges for Foundries

Historically, foundries have been challenging environments to illuminate. Lighting is essential to keeping workers safe and facilities productive, but the conditions pose issues for various technologies and ongoing maintenance and re-lamping processes. The core features of the Digital Lumens System were a perfect match at the AMFW facility and tackled the following concerns:

Safety — Ample illumination is necessary for creating a safe workplace, especially while working with large machinery and handling risky tasks, and the Digital Lumens System doubled light levels.

Durability — Lighting luminaires must be powerful and tough enough to withstand the harsh environment conditions, such as high temperatures or vibrations from heavy machinery.

Efficiency — In addition to being energy efficient,LED luminaires are operationally efficient because they require no maintenance (no more re-lamping or re-ballasting). This allows machines to operate without the need for lighting maintenance downtime, keeping costs as low as possible and productivity high for busy operations.

Control — Having software to centrally manage lighting settings is key for operational success. This gives facility managers the flexibility to schedule and manage lighting to match shift work, downtime, and holidays without needing to access luminaire-mounted DIP switches.