For over a decade, Gills Onions has been fully dialed into the importance of sustainability. From the leaders of the Energy Management Team to peeling line employees, everyone at Gills feels the drive for energy efficiency, and everyone’s input is welcome and valued.
Learn more about our latest efforts striving for sustainability and some of the successes we’ve been able to celebrate.
Our Sustainability Partnership
One of the most important efforts we’ve made toward sustainability in recent years is our partnership with Cascade Energy and Southern California Edison Company. Currently, Gills is in a two-year Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program with these companies, and the results have been fantastic.
“One of the key takeaways from this partnership is that now whenever we look at a future initiative, even if it may not be directly related to sustainability, we still use the energy lens to evaluate it,” said Laura Hamman, Sustainability Manager. “Energy efficiency is one more element of the vetting process — because efficiency can apply to everything.”
Having a fresh set of eyes in our processing plants has been a huge help for sustainability, and we’re always thrilled when opportunities arise to make “green” onion improvements.
How Assessments Lead to Improvements
Within the SEM partnership, Gills Onions has been constantly evaluating efficiency and figuring out new ways to optimize energy use. When it comes to sustainability, the small things really do add up.
With the help of SEM program engineers, yearly audits identify things we can improve on in each area of consumption — including refrigeration, compressed air, process equipment, lighting, and more.
Some of the projects we’ve been working on as a result of this program include:
- Optimizing pressure cooler operation (turning off fans when no liquid/refrigerant is flowing at the evaporator)
- Adjusting the compression ratio for the compressors
- Installing valves to shut off compressed air when not in use
- Repairing compressed air leaks
- Employee engagement, training, and recognition (including our “Turn It Off” awareness campaign)
These projects are a team effort among all of our departments, and we’re so proud of the work they’ve put into this initiative so far.
The Numbers Speak for Themselves
We’re happy to report that our hard work is paying off, and we’ve got the numbers to prove it. By investing in major capital projects (like replacing a large ammonia refrigeration compressor), during the first two years of our SEM partnership, Gills Onions saw a 21% reduction in annual energy consumption and a huge leap from our goal of 12% savings.
And we’re not stopping there! Some other exciting projects we’ve been working on to improve the overall efficiency of the plant include new peeling lines with reduced compressed air use, and water recycling in our wastewater system through the use of effluent water for dilution.
Sustainability is truly an ongoing effort, and we can’t wait to see what the future holds.
The Future Looks Green for Gills
Due to the success of our SEM partnership, we have been invited back to participate in a second cycle and continue our advancements. Only the companies with the most potential and drive to continue with the program have received this invitation, and we are thrilled to be part of that cohort.
“It has been a labor of love,” said Hamman. “It’s been really nice to see the results, and we keep going strong. Even if it’s a small change, it matters.”
Ready to try onions grown “The Gills Way?” Contact our sales department to learn more.