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1. Focusing on the big picture (vs. just the purchase price)

According to the market researchers at HIS, industrial plants are responsible for 42 percent of global power consumption. And around two thirds of this industrial consumption goes to powering motors in factories. This is more than is actually required since, if highly efficient motors were employed worldwide, the energy savings would be enough to cover the power requirements of the city of Los Angeles for two years.

Nevertheless many companies hesitate to take this step, due to the initially higher capital outlay. According to a study by the German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers' Association (ZVEI), some 80 percent of procurement decision-makers only consider the purchase price or amortization costs (or payoff), while failing to factor in the cost of the entire product lifecycle. For electric drives, however, about 80 percent of the lifecycle costs can be chalked up to energy consumption – according to the Research Center for Energy Economics . The moral of the story: Motor efficiency needs to play a bigger role in procurement decisions.

Companies like Antriebstechnik KATT Hessen can even deliver motors in the premium efficiency class IE3, which in contrast to IE2 does not require a motor to be additionally equipped with a speed governor. WEG Germany already offers a line of motors that correspond to the requirements for the pending IE4 energy efficiency class. Both companies are exhibiting at HANNOVER MESSE.

To facilitate an unbiased comparison of components and equipment parts, the ZVEI association has developed a Lifecycle Cost Evaluation tool (LCE), which is available to companies free of charge.

"Efficiency technologies represent the oil wells of the future."

Eberhard Brandes, Managing Director of WWF Germany

2. Reducing leakage

But plant managers need to consider more than just the issue of motor performance; they also have to reduce leakage. The NRW Energy Agency compared the weak spots of energy consumption across various industries. In the mechanical engineering industry, for example, a great deal of potential is sacrificed with regard to compressed air – despite the fact that air compression is responsible for up to 10 percent of total in-plant power consumption, with leakage rates of 30 to 50 percent a routine phenomenon. Companies like Bosch Rexroth offer testing equipment to determine the quantity of unused air in hydraulic systems, providing valuable information for identifying defects.

The objective is to achieve the lowest possible consumption of electric power in the overall manufacturing process. To achieve this goal, drives need to be consistently integrated with production and production control systems.

This approach ensures that state-of-the-art pneumatic and hydraulic systems use energy only when in actual operation. Variable-speed pump drives with predefined controllers generate the required performance, and central cutoff valves can be used to completely switch off an idle piece of equipment. Memory and charging circuits as well as electric energy recovery systems can also be used to recover energy and further reduce the rate of power consumption.

3. Using intelligent energy management systems

Achieving intelligent, autonomous production processes requires the continuous measurement and control of the energy scorecard of machines and motors. Existing equipment can be retrofitted with the necessary tools. Energy management and control systems are not only beneficial to cutting down on electricity costs, but are also useful as warning systems for potential breakdowns. A sudden jump in a machine's power consumption could for example point to wear in rough-running bearings. A decline in plant power consumption, on the other hand, could be a sign of possible process errors. Sophisticated measuring systems based on the use of sensors can tip the user off early to looming problems. Control systems from the Beckhoff company for example transmit energy data in real time to engineers’ mobile devices.

"Large-scale companies and connected firms are legally required to furnish proof of an energy audit as of 5 December 2015. But this can also pay off for small and medium-sized enterprises."

The example of BMW demonstrates how an intelligent energy management system can produce successful results on the shop floor. The German auto manufacturer uses smart meters to continuously monitor the power consumption of individual production machines and robots. All of the resulting data is compared by running it through the company’s central Big Data network. The analysis revealed a bug in the run-time management of one of the Spartanburg plant’s roller dynamometers, one which caused it to consume significantly more electricity than the other dynamometers. Within weeks of installing the new smart meter system, the plant registered overall savings of 25 percent, while benefitting from enhanced production safety and improved product quality.

Further examples of the potential for energy savings in industry as well as a list of the technical measures required have been published by TÜV-Nord . And the German Engineering Federation (VDMA) has also assembled a list of practical examples from a range of product categories.

From highly efficient motors to continuously automated process chains and smart grids – you’ll find the entire range of new technology and solutions at the following trade fairs: Industrial Automation, Energy, MDA – Motion, Drive & Automation.