Designing industrial, manufacturing, and warehouse facilities: Electrical, power, and lighting

More than just places to make and store products, industrial, manufacturing, and warehouse facilities are becoming more complex. Electrical and power systems require detailed engineering, and lighting systems are key for all work spaces.

By Consulting-Specifying Engineer September 20, 2018


  • Andy Campbell, CEng, MCIBSE Senior Refrigeration Engineer Leo A Daly Minneapolis
  • David Crutchfield, PE, LEED AP Principal RMF Engineering Charleston, S.C.
  • George Isherwood, PE Vice President Peter Basso Associates Troy, Mich.
  • Tommy Lane, PE Department Head, Electrical Engineering Spencer Bristol Peachtree Corners, Ga.

CSE: What are some key differences in electrical, lighting, and power systems you might incorporate in one of these industrial, warehouse, or manufacturing facilities, compared to other projects?

Lane: Many industrial facilities use medium-voltage electrical service with unit substations located throughout the facility to distribute electrical power, due to the size and power usage of these type of facilities. Many of these facilities are 24/7 operations, which demands coordination of lighting controls to ensure automatic shutoff of all spaces that are not used 24/7.

CSE: How does your team work with the architect, owner, and other project team members so the electrical/power systems are flexible and sustainable?

Lane: Our team has ongoing and frequent meetings with the owner at the beginning of the project to discuss the goals of the client and flexibility options, such as bus ducts to allow process equipment to be relocated in the future with minimal impact to the electrical design.

CSE: Describe a facility metering or submetering project. What did it include, and what best practices did you include for these facilities?

Lane: When a client requires electrical metering, we typically separate panels into lighting panels, mechanical panels, process panels, and receptacle panels, which allows the project to lower initial cost by metering at the panel level instead of the branch-circuit level.

CSE: What are some of the challenges when designing electrical, power, and lighting for industrial, warehouse, or manufacturing facilities?

Lane: Some challenges for the electrical design include obtaining accurate information for the process equipment and coordinating lighting with the process equipment, including any process platforms, to ensure adequate lighting levels.

CSE: What kind of energy-efficient lighting designs have you incorporated into a project for industrial, warehouse, or manufacturing facilities or to increase the occupants’ experience? Discuss the use of LEDs or other updated light sources.

Lane: We strictly use LED lighting due to the lower energy cost. This allows us to adequately illuminate the facility while meeting energy code requirements.