Inside Logistics

Lineage Logistics wins for energy conserving technology

Patented 'flywheeling' technology anticipates electricity rates and optimizes refrigeration to reduce costs


July 11, 2019
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NOVI, Michigan – Lineage Logistics, LLC, has won a 2019 Better Practice Award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Plants Program (Better Plants).

The DOE Better Plants designation recognizes organizations that are making outstanding accomplishments in implementing and promoting the practices, principles and procedures of energy management.

The DOE recognized Lineage for pioneering a new and innovative way to improve energy productivity using a process the company calls “flywheeling”, which proactively manages energy consumption using a proprietary machine-learning technology to reduce both cost and waste.

Last month, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued a utility patent to Lineage and primary inventor Dr. Alex Woolf, principal data scientist at Lineage, covering the technology.

“This great honour from the DOE is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our talented team, and it is quite humbling to be recognized as a leader in energy conservation. Flywheeling is one of the many ways Lineage lives our purpose of transforming the food supply chain to eliminate waste and help feed the world,” said Greg Lehmkuhl, president and CEO of Lineage.

The temperature-controlled supply chain is energy-intensive by nature, making energy conservation a key priority for Lineage. On average, each of the company’s more than 200 facilities across North America, Europe and Asia can store approximately 24,000 pallets of inventory, the equivalent of approximately 770,000 home freezers. Lineage’s North American power consumption is approximately equivalent to that of a mid-sized U.S. city.

“We are entrusted with ensuring that billions of pounds of food across the United States and the globe are kept at optimal temperatures throughout the supply chain, and we are obsessed with finding new ways to do this even more safely and efficiently than has ever been done before,” Said Michael McClendon president, Lineage Europe & EVP, network optimization.

Lineage’s flywheeling technology minimizes energy costs and increases utilization of renewable energy sources by precisely timing electricity consumption. It determines when peak demand for energy usage will occur and avoids the relevant periods by super-cooling the warehouse in advance.

Lineage’s algorithms rely on advanced physics, mathematical optimization, large-scale sensor deployments and machine learning to accurately quantify how each building interacts with its environment and optimize accordingly.

Lineage piloted flywheeling at its Mira Loma, California facility in 2018 with the goal of reducing the cost of refrigeration per pallet of goods. As part of this effort, Lineage deployed the flywheeling algorithms and also upgraded warehouse infrastructure, instrumentation and control equipment. In 2018, Lineage achieved a 39 percent reduction in normalized cost at Mira Loma as a result of this initiative, and has plans to roll it out to additional locations within the network in the coming year.

This flywheeling project is just one example of the innovative industry-leading technology work done by the Lineage Data Science Team – the only team of its kind in the industry. Comprised of some of Silicon Valley’s brightest physicists, mathematicians, marine biologists, engineers and technologists, the team uses thermodynamics, mathematics, AI/machine learning, robotics, statistics, oceanography, computer simulation and data visualization to disrupt the world’s food supply chain by optimizing costs, increasing energy efficiencies to build the warehouses of the future and eliminating waste.

Better Plants partners voluntarily set a long-term goal, typically to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent over a 10-year period across all their U.S. operations. DOE supports these efforts with technical expertise and national recognition.