Ash Grove Cement takes energy award

Ash Grove Cement Company’s Louisville, Nebraska, plant won top honors in the annual Ash Grove Energy Management (AGem) Outstanding Plant of the Year competition.

“Ash Grove created the AGem program in order to improve efficiency, reduce emissions and continually look for new ways to drive sustainability in our operations,” said Andy Lippert, Ash Grove corporate energy director.

“The Louisville plant went above and beyond to make energy efficiency a top priority.”

Since 2008, eight Ash Grove cement manufacturing plants and two grinding facilities have competed to earn the award.  Each facility is evaluated on an extensive matrix of data that is focused on energy use, efficiency and cost. The AGem process involves the entire plant workforce as well as overhead and support groups. Most suggestions to reduce energy usage and costs come from plant employees. Three years ago the process had exceeded the goal of saving $20 million in energy costs across all plants and terminals, and it continues to drive additional savings.

Each plant has its own AGem champion who coordinates the AGem activities, which include monthly meetings, idea promotion, idea solicitation and project evaluation. The AGem process partners the company with local vendors, national suppliers, utilities, energy suppliers and contractors as well as local and state governments to identify, implement, finance or develop worthy ideas.  New projects since 2012 have included installation of LED lighting, variable frequency drive motors, high efficiency motors and more efficient processing equipment.

Lippert scores each plant every month based on 12 metrics. Those scores are tabulated and the plant with the highest score is recommended to Ash Grove senior staff as the leading plant to receive the award. For 2014, Ash Grove senior staff selected Louisville as the outstanding AGem plant of the year. Most notable about the Louisville plant’s efforts was their teamwork and the fact that the entire workforce was engaged in the process.

“Our team is honored to win the AGem award,” said Louisville Plant Manager John Dale. “This recognition is evidence of our ongoing commitment to energy management.”

The Louisville cement manufacturing plant employs 136 and began operations in 1929. The Louisville plant has earned numerous safety awards including the Portland Cement Association Innovation in Safety awards as well as Ash Grove’s President’s Safety awards.


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