Category: Treasure hunt

Sustainability: A Treasure Hunt for a Better Energy Solution

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When we hear the term “sustainability,” we automatically think of the trends that have been surfacing in our world over the past couple of years. Questions like “How can we make our world greener?” or “How can we save energy and resources?” seem to appear everywhere. Although awareness has been raised, the basic fixes like recycling and turning off lights are simply not enough to solve the problem. The real solutions for going green and industrial energy usage dilemmas can deceive us by appearing more complicated than they really are. Treasure hunts are one solution to these problems. As a strategy that helps to bring several skills into play, treasure hunts involve a team of employees working together to evaluate and assess the energy consumption in a facility. These different perspectives, knowledge, and expertise join together to create a customized energy efficiency solution.

An inevitable find in these commercial and industrial treasure hunts is the hidden cost of cooling. By recovering this wasted energy, companies not only become more energy conscious but also end up saving money (treasure) while going green—an ideal solution. Sustainability, energy efficiency, and treasure hunts go hand-in-hand and when done correctly provide major kWh savings, sparing the pain of expensive energy bills.

tekWorx reduces the energy usage for customers by optimizing chilled water plant production. tekWorx CEO® system not only helps the environment by controlling the amount of resources used, it also prevents unnecessary spending through its customized adaptive control algorithms. Check out our chiller plant evaluation forms to see how much energy your plant can save with a customized control system from our Approachable Expertise® team. We’re here to make our world (and your wallets) a little greener!

Optimizing Merck’s Treasure Hunt

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Merck was desperate to improve the energy efficiency of their crucial S-6 chiller plant. The central plant was riddled with energy problems due to a wide range in the size and manufacturer of the chillers, convoluted piping and multiple control system with poor communication. Vast amounts of kilowatt hours and operator hours were wasted as plant operators manually adjusted equipment to meet water temperature setpoints without any trending to track demand or indicate problem areas. This was not a simple fix easily resolved by a treasure hunt. Merck knew where the inefficiencies were hidden; they just needed a partner that could simultaneously deal with mechanical and hydronic issues, and implement a truly optimized control system. They called tekWorx.

tekWorx converted Merck’s system to their patented Integrated Primary/Secondary® (IPS) system from a traditional Primary/Secondary design to remove its inherent inefficiencies. Additionally, they implemented a PLC-based adaptive control system to provide control sequences for energy optimization to collect data that would enhance maintenance capabilities and performance monitoring. After the installation, plant operators were no longer burdened with manual tweaks as they took advantage of remote energy monitoring with real time data which enhanced HVAC troubleshooting. While an energy analysis similar to a treasure hunt helped to identify the underlying issues within the plant, a more in-depth investigation was required for this effective energy optimization.

To find out how tekWorx has improved similar central plant conditions, check out our Results page.

Taking the Treasure Hunt One Step Further


Treasure hunts are an efficient way for companies to quickly recapture lost energy costs using simple fixes. EnergyStar’s best practices include starting with lighting replacements and renegotiating of utility contracts to see basic energy reductions in short time frames. These hunts constitute a major step in the right direction for buildings looking to reduce energy consumption and energy bills. However, if treasure hunts handle the low hanging fruit, reaching the fruit located in the upper branches of the energy efficiency tree becomes a lot more complex than replacing the lights. Short term efficiency can positively bolster lean operating processes but long term goals can’t be achieved without more sophisticated methods for optimizing chilled water plants. Even with the popularity and usefulness of energy treasure hunts, Approachable Expertise® still remains critical.

Much like the lean manufacturing processes on which these treasure hunts are modeled, the key for improvement is both in pinpointing areas in need of energy optimization and then in applying best practices to improve upon these inefficiencies. tekWorx uses decades of hydronic system expertise to optimize all of the central plant equipment associated with producing cooling. Using industrial PLC platforms, adaptive control algorithms work to reduce chiller lift and ensure the system is meeting demand in the most energy efficient way. Real time data is continuously monitored and plant kW/ton is significantly reduced. Automation and control techniques such as these allow companies to reach the upper branches of the energy efficiency tree and to stay and enjoy their tremendous energy savings.

To find out how tekWorx can increase your view on energy efficiency, please fill out our Chiller Plant Evaluation Form.

Hunting for Energy Efficiency

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The latest in innovative system management for large chilled water systems is derived from the notorious lean manufacturing model developed by Toyota. Only recently working its way into the realm of plant optimization services, this take on kaizen has been adapted by EnergyStar to help commercial/industrial plants reduce CHW pumping electrical energy. Known as treasure hunts, this strategy utilizes cross-functional teams of employees to discover and assess all uses of energy in their facilities. This effort empowers the employees while undertaking a site-wide effort to uncover opportunities for eliminating excessive energy consumption. Energy savings through these treasure hunts has reached the million dollar mark and, at the same time, companies are successfully minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving natural resources. The treasure hunts are typically broken up into four phases: preparation, pre-training, the actual event, and follow-up. Scheduled meetings are set to assess the current conditions of the central plant, document problem/issue areas and assigned them to teams. Lastly, EnergyStar suggested three-day onsite event takes plant in which energy saving opportunities are identified, presented, and later reported on in the follow-up stage.

Many high profile companies, including GE, Merck, and Hanes Brand, have begun using this process, savings big by identifying the ‘low hanging fruit’ that improves energy plant efficiency. These treasure hunts stand apart from a typical energy audit in that employee engagement is at an all-time high during the process, more direct operational improvements can be determined, and minimal capital improvements are required as the team focuses on existing equipment.

tekWorx goes through similar treasure hunts when working with facility employees to discuss central plant conditions and capital expenditure avoidance. Treasure hunts are a great way to find simple, yet impactful reductions in energy consumption without big alterations, perfect for those smaller facilities who are limited in optimization opportunities or those whose budgets don’t allow for a much needed controls retrofit. For everything else, tekWorx has you covered.

To view EnergyStar’s best practices, visit their guide to successful treasure hunts.