LED High-Bay Lighting For A Packaging Facility

Zirkle Fruit Company - Selah, Washington

Summary: Zirkle Fruit Company recently modernized the apple and cherry packaging lines at its central facility in Selah, WA.  With a focus on providing higher quality lighting for employees while reducing the company’s environmental footprint and operational costs, the company decided to upgrade its high-bay lighting to state-of-the-art high-bay LED fixtures.

Zirkle Fruit Company, with headquarters in Yakima Valley, WA, is one of the largest apple and cherry operations in the nation with multiple field locations stretching from the Canadian border to the Oregon state line.  It is a family-owned business with a hundred year legacy and a strong tradition of community, quality, and environmental stewardship. This commitment to quality is the key to delighting the consumer and applies to all aspects of their business from attention to every detail, to avoid cutting corners, to having the “best-of-the-best” facilities, to optimum harvesting times.  When it came to the recent modernization and expansion of its apple and cherry packaging operations, it is therefore no surprise that the Zirkle team extensively researched the options for a new high-bay lighting system.

When processing huge quantities of fruit every year, there can be no compromise on safety, both in terms of the delivered product and the work environment.  From a lighting perspective, this meant Zirkle quickly ruled out any fluorescent tube solution; the risk of a potentially broken fixture and an associated mercury spill was just too great.  Under the progressive leadership of the company’s president, Mark Zirkle, the facilities team rapidly focused on LED lighting solutions.

“We did our homework on the benefits of installing LED lighting in our facility. Apart from the energy savings, the O&M savings are really quite significant when you figure the cost and inconvenience of replacing conventional metal halide type fixtures.”

The high efficiency and reduced energy consumption of these fixtures resonated with the company’s strong environmental position.  As project lead, Jeff Gill, commented, “We did our homework on the benefits of installing LED lighting in our facility. Apart from the energy savings, the O&M savings are really quite significant when you figure the cost and inconvenience of replacing conventional metal halide type fixtures.  However, my concern was that I hadn’t seen a good LED solution for a large manufacturing area. Looking at other facilities, it seemed as if the LED lighting was very harsh and left a strong residual glare in your eyes, which I felt might cause discomfort over the course of the day. All that changed, when I began to review options with my local Platt salesman.”

Working directly with Axlen Lighting, Platt introduced Jeff to the e-Solis™ high-bay LED lights.  These revolutionary high power panels are designed to provide a uniform lighting distribution rather than many bright spots that are typical of high-bay direct LED point source designs.  By using a proprietary waveguide architecture, Axlen has been able to not only provide a smooth distributed light output but also offer an industry-leading efficacy. Jeff added, “Platt was very responsive in recognizing that I needed something different from their standard stock panels used for office space.  Together with Axlen, they quickly delivered high-bay samples with nearly 20,000 lumens output. When we put them next to competitive direct LED samples, the decision to go with e-Solis™ was unanimous.”

Zirkle considered the cool white 5000K CCT panel to provide the brightest ambient lighting conditions and selected a combination of 120W and 180W 2′ x 4′ e-Solis™ panels to meet their design illuminance requirements of 70 ft cd throughout the warehouse work areas.  About 15% of the panels were fitted with a 25W battery backup supply to ensure adequate emergency lighting levels in case of a power failure.  Under the expert direction of local contractor, Lakeshore Electric, the installation was seamless and completed on schedule in perfect time for the harvesting season.  With a projected lifetime of over 100,000 hrs (L70), Zirkle is now looking forward to many years of maintenance-free operation. The energy savings are projected to be over 50% and everyone at Zirkle is delighted with the new facilities, which continue to position the company as a trailblazer in the fruit growing and distribution industry.