When Joe Huber, plant manager of the 33-year-old Chrysler machining plant in Toledo, Ohio, decided to update the lighting system, he put into place an energy-savings initiative that would meet the company'squality policy.

As part of Chrysler's vital machining and assembly operations, the plant produces torque converters and steering columns. Chrysler employs approximately 2000 at this 1.2-million-sq-ft facility.

Improving the quality of the lighting system would save energy at the plant, while improving working conditions and employee attitude. To begin research on the new lighting system, Huber enlisted Ken Reeves, area manager of the Toledo machining plant.

The existing system was 400W high pressure sodium (HPS), which is an efficient, compact, long-life light source relatively immune to ambient temperature effects. However, HPS produces a yellow light (2200 degrees Kelvin) and has a very poor color rendering index (CRI) of 22. The higher the CRI, the better and more distinctly colors appear. HPS has poor color rendering capabilities compared with other light sources.

"It felt like we were working in a cave," said Reeves. "We knew there had to be another way to light our plant so we could see projects better."

Huber's goal was to find the light source that would allow 100 footcandles at a 3-ft workplane, provide at least 33,000 hr of performance life, and increase the light levels in the machining facility while decreasing the number of fixtures.

Next, Reeves solicited Steve Crandall, president of Innovative Lighting Systems, Perrysburg, Ohio, to select a replacement system. Crandall recommended Chrysler test a 400W metal-halide pulse start system with metal-halide (M-H) fixtures.

In the more than three years since the Toledo facility purchased its HPS lamps, M-H lighting technology has made dramatic advancements. In fact, manufacturers have improved the lumen maintenance, color uniformity, and illumination periods for M-H lamps. As a result of these improvements, Reeves compared the lighting system with the pulse start system.

The pulse start system features new formed body arc tube technology that initially produces 44,000 lumens, or 110 lumens per watt, and increases lumen maintenance over the life of the lamp. It also produces bright white light (3000 degrees Kelvin to 4000 degrees Kelvin) with a CRI of 65 to 75. This system uses a high-voltage, pulse start ignitor and ballast system that improves lumen maintenance, controls lamp color shift, provides faster warm-up and restrike times, and reduces ballast losses.

As a completely redefined approach to M-H, engineers developed this system of lamp-plus-ballast that works together to provide the light needed for the application. The superior formed body arc tube combines with new ballasts and controls to deliver unsurpassed performance.

Chrysler tested 600 of the 400W M-H fixtures using the pulse start lamp system. The new system exceeded Chrysler's lighting criteria. It provided 130 footcandles (the goal was to maintain 100 footcandles). In addition, the estimated performance life of pulse start lamps is 42,000 hr.

The glass optical fixtures allow a smooth distribution of light on work surfaces, with uplight for control of shadows and overall better workplace lighting. Although they are initially more expensive, these fixtures provide better lumen maintenance with glass, superior brightness control, and easy-to-clean surfaces.

Chrysler expects an energy savings of at least 20%, due to the new lamps and fixtures. Since the plant requires lighting around the clock, energy savings is crucial. Under this initiative, Chrysler decreased the number of fixtures from 6000 to approximately 4000 by changing the fixtures grid from 10 ft by 15 ft to 15 ft by 15 ft. This was possible because the new system provides more light per fixture.

The Toledo facility's lighting system has become an example for other Chrysler operations. Officials from other locations plan to emulate this successful lighting renovation, which incorporates the pulse start system, at their facilities.