Lighting Before and After – Manufacturing Facility

Published March 2014

Northern Iron & Machine, a state-of-the-art manufacturing, casting, machining, and finishing company located on St. Paul, Minnesota’s east side, is updating the inefficient lighting in their 107 year old facility this year with The Retrofit Companies [TRC] as their lighting expert.

Due to the nature of their business, Northern Iron & Machine required a fixture that would handle a more than 100 degree Fahrenheit ambient temperature. They wanted to redesign their lighting system with a long-term solution for optimum efficiency and minimal maintenance. The Electrical Maintenance Supervisor at Northern Iron, Tom Zarnke, had spent several years testing many lighting technologies and fixture configurations on his own, looking for the perfect lighting solution. He thought he had it until TRC lighting specialist, Allison Akre, presented him with an LED solution that met all of the project requirements, and included integrated lighting controls.

hid low bay fixture retrofit

LED Aisle Retrofit


In these low bay areas, the facility had inconsistent color temperature and shadows as seen in the before photo above. Traditional T8 or T5 vapor tight fixtures would suffer in the facility’s 100-degree environment, and open fixtures would get dirty too quickly, requiring too much maintenance.

In the after photo, shadows are lessened, the color of the lighting is consistent, and the new LED vapor tight fixtures stay clean, cool, and consume just 50 watts each.

400 Watt Metal Halide Retrofit




In these high bay areas, the facility had 30-plus-year-old HID fixtures. Many were severely degraded, giving minimal light while other were completely failed and gave no light. These HID fixtures also consumed 454 watts per fixture. The new LED fixtures in the After photo offer integrated controls, daylight sensors for daylight harvesting, dimming capabilities, and they consume just 190 watts each.


  • The project is estimated to be complete by mid-April 2014.
  • Projected kWh reduction is 79%
  • kW savings 70%
  • The new lighting solution will save nearly 80% in utility costs annually

With TRC’s design capabilities, Akre was able to secure $12,500 in study fee reimbursement from Xcel Energy. That reimbursement, in conjunction with the project rebate of $31,000 (also from Xcel Energy) means Northern Iron & Machine qualified for a total of $43,500 in incentives.


Interested in more information about lighting retrofits and planning your project?