Biz analysis saves company more than a million a year

-A A +A
By Roger Snodgrass

Loren Toole on behalf of his team from Los Alamos National Laboratory was one of eight success stories highlighted by the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program Thursday night at the Albuquerque Aquarium.


“This project has been one of the most successful in the 8-year history of the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program,” noted Lisa Henne, the lab’s small business program manager. “We are very proud of that project and the company is just thrilled.”


Altogether 286 small businesses were provided assistance in 2008, thanks to a tax credit act passed by the state legislature.


Sandia National Laboratories started the program eight years ago. This was LANL’s second year of participation.


Toole’s project was identified during a preliminary visit to Santa Teresa, N.M., sponsored by the NMSBAP, which included a forum for local businesses and a tour of some of the manufacturing plants in the border area.


The need was identified by Secretary Fred Mondragon of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, Toole said.


“The tenants of the industrial park were complaining about high power costs and reliability,” he said. “I gave a talk to a group of CEOs from the industrial park. “We talked about the problem and wrote up a statement of work with Sandia.”


The assignment as principal investigator was given to Toole, because of his background and experience.


He was recognized Thursday night for his assistance to Ffhoenix Cuivre, a copper fabrication and insulating business in Santa Teresa.


The company supplies bare and tin-plated conductors to the automotive, consumer appliance and telecommunications, industrial and medical industries.


Ffhoenix Cuivre was having frequent power interruptions that interfered with deadlines and high power costs that made competitive pricing difficult.


Toole and his team of from Energy and Infrastructure Analysis at LANL analyzed the performance of the plant’s equipment, using advanced modeling techniques to identify changes that would lower peak demand and raise average demand, so that the company could qualify for lower electricity rates.


According to Program Manager Henne’s description, “Ffhoenix Cuivre immediately began saving $5,000 a month on power costs by implementing the first tier of changes that Toole and his team recommended and anticipates potential savings of $40,000 per month in electricity costs and up to $60,000 per year in maintenance costs by implementing the remainder of the recommendations.


“They’re not configured to ride through a long power blip.” Toole said. “When those lines are shut down, it could cost $10,000 an event on wasted materials.”


“The improvement actions provided were down-to-earth and business conscious, not relying on ‘Star Wars’ technology, out-of-reach investments, or impractical changes to our operations," said Brian French of Ffhoenix Cuivre in an announcement about the project by NMEED in February.


In 2008, small business projects under this program ranged from helping a door restoration company to assisting Nambe Pueblo develop a water model, according to an announcement from SNL.


Also highlighted from LANL during the ceremony in Albuquerque were Richard Strelitz, a mathematician who solved a color conversion problem for Cinnafilm, an Albuquerque software company, and Glen Wurden, whose super high-speed camera assisted Energy Matter Conversion Corporation (E=MC2) on a problem related to an electrostatic well fusion confinement concept, called a polywell.


Toole said he has spent about a week each quarter working on the copper project in Santa Teresa and found the experience satisfying.


“For a lab scientist or engineer, it’s a little out of our normal league,” he said. “You get to get out in the field and see some immediate results, which is actually a pretty unique experience.”