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Case Study:  Mission Produce

We have achieved the forecasted savings and payback as predicted. We are especially pleased with the ease of resetting control parameters to balance production requirements and savings.

Kim Hutchinson
Project Engineer
Hitchiner Manufacturing

Fine-Tuned Energy Control Supports Rapid Global Growth

If you’ve eaten an avocado recently, chances are it arrived at your table via the careful handling of Mission Produce. A global importer,processor, and exporter of avocados and asparagus, the Oxnard, California–based company was the first to supply ripe fruit to retail, wholesale, and food-service customers nationwide. That revolutionized the avocado industry, and Mission’s sales more than doubled from 2008 to 2013.
 
The company has fueled that growth in part by keeping tight control over product quality, waste, and major operational expenses such as electricity. A critical component of Mission’s success is its demand management system, advanced technology that lets the company participate in smart grid programs, reduce peak electricity demand while maintaining quality, and implement continuous operational improvements across multiple facilities with remote supervision from headquarters.

Optimized Loads
  • Cold Room Evaporators with VFDs
  • Condensers with VFDs
  • Freon Refrigeration Compressors (Sequencing & Staging)
  • Hydro-Coolers
  • Ripening Rooms
  • Battery Chargers
  • Lights
Powerit Installed
  • Spara DM®(hardware and software)
  • Spara Hub®
  • At Oxnard facility:
    8 VFDs controlling 16 evaporators
    4 VFDs controlling condensers

Jake Nixon, Mission’s director of operations, support, and process improvement, was intrigued by the prospect of low- to no-risk payments from Southern California Edison’s demand response (DR) program, but soon found that participation wasn’t practical without automation.
 
“I was certain we could control the necessary actions manually—until we actually tried it,” he recalls. “It took too much time and we couldn’t fine-tune adjustments. Since we weren’t willing to risk production, we had to find a better solution.”
 
At the same time, Nixon was looking to reduce Mission’s electrical usage and its energy bills—one of the company’s biggest expenses. The ideal solution would be repeatable at other existing facilities and a new one coming online. (Mission now has operations in the Seattle area, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, New Jersey, Toronto, Mexico, and Peru,and expects to have 11 facilities working in 2014.) It also would give Nixon and his team at the Oxnard headquarters the ability to remotely see and troubleshoot equipment operations in these far-flung facilities, which don’t have on-site technical staff.