Rural manufacturer finds ‘sew’ many savings with energy efficiency upgrades
Located in rural Rockwood, Tennessee, Albahealth is the largest manufacturer of “patient safety footwear” in the world. While those thick socks with the rubber pattern on the sole is their main product, they knit and dye a variety of disposable medical apparel, including compression sleeves and socks, anti-embolism stockings, baby caps, glove and cast liners, and so much more.
“Socks have been knit in the main portion of this building for well over one hundred years” says Albahealth Controller Ed Byrd. “This facility was built in 1906.” With nearly 200 machines running around the clock, all on air compression, the potential for energy efficiency savings was considerable.
Albahealth’s first project completed with Pathway Lending’s Energy Efficiency Loan Program was to change all incandescent bulbs to fluorescents in 2012. “That project paid for itself within three years,” says Byrd. “Our electricity bill has gone down by at least 30%, plus our employees can see and everyone is more efficient.”
With the success of their lighting upgrades in plain sight, Albahealth has completed two additional projects with Pathway Lending: replacing outdated air compressors with a single, larger machine, and replacing an aging HVAC unit in their finishing area.
“Everything in this building runs on air, and that new air compressor provides enough pressure for all our machines,” says Byrd. “It’s bigger, better, and uses less electricity than our old two machines combined.”
The portion of the facility known as the “Blue Mile” for its rows of knitting machines used to get very warm in the summer, so it became the third target for a Pathway Lending project.
“During the summer we used to have to keep drinking water out on the floor and make sure our employees were staying hydrated throughout the day because it got so hot,” says Byrd. “Now it’s comfortable all year-round.”
“Working with Pathway Lending, you have access to other resources like the State and TVA, and Brandon helps you make sure the entire project runs smoothly,” says Byrd. “Not only is working with Pathway easy, the interest rate in their energy loan program is hard to beat.”
With 160 employees, Albahealth is one of the largest employers in Rockwood. Its continued investments in energy and money-saving improvements help ensure the ongoing success of the factory.