thumbnail group

Connect With Us:

ME Channels / Controls & Software

Lean and Green: Energy Savings in Manufacturing

Is your company ready for ISO 50001, which gives organizations the requirements for energy management systems, and the new energy era? 


By Joyce Laird 
Contributing Editor 

From scrutinizing the lighting operations of facilities to fundamentally rethinking the engineering and design of large systems, a new era focused on eliminating energy waste is upon the manufacturing industry. 

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has challenged the industry to reduce consumption by 25% over the next 10 years. But reducing energy use isn’t just about meeting regulatory goals. 

 A 2011 book, Reinventing Fire: Bold Business Solutions For the New Energy Era, by Amory B. Lovins, chairman and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, asks provocative questions about sitting on the sidelines of this movement: “Do you understand the implications of vastly higher energy prices and price volatility for your company? ... How can you win by eliminating your energy operating costsbefore your competitors do?”

The threat of rising energy costs already has many manufacturers in high gear, evaluating everything from lighting and heating and cooling systems to the very fundamentals of how they design manufacturing systems from the onset. Many enterprising companies are eager to rise to the challenge, too, offering new services and products all aimed at reducing energy waste.  


Energy Consultancies on the Rise 

A robust energy consulting industry has sprung up to help manufacturers root out their waste. 

 EnerNOC (Boston), whose name stands for energy networks operations center, is one of those companies. “Our purpose is to unlock the whole energy savings potential for our commercial customers,” Gregg Dixon, senior vice president of marketing and sales says. “We do this in four programs: command response, energy efficiency, energy supply management and tracking/recording.” 

One of the core challenges manufacturers face in tackling energy waste is they don’t have a clear picture of how they actually use electricity. “We put our technology into those facilities which consists of metering and control technology that provides real-time visibility about how and where they consume electricity,” Dixon said. “The incoming data is continuously analyzed against all industry benchmarks for similar use, and we find energy inefficiency areas where they can save money.”  

EnerNOC says it helped one plant in Texas with high energy usage spot a faulty transformer that was ready to blow. “ The transformer was replaced and the plant’s usage went back to normal,” Dixon said. “This saved the manufacturer literally millions in what their loss would have been if that transformer blew up and stopped all production. The plant would have been down for days.”  Sinumerik CNCs from Siemens

Another consultancy, TechSolve (Cincinnati), specializes in process improvement, machining and energy management. Ken Mills, program manager-energy for TechSolve, says the firm is unique “because we are affiliated with the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) in the capacity of what they call MEP (manufacturing extension placement).” 

TechSolve looks at a facility’s energy systems and does an energy balance. It also installs monitors in key areas, such as compressed air, steam, process heating, lighting, HVAC, and other major energy systems, and then analyzes the data to identify savings for each area. 

Mills says that the new ISO 50001 energy management standard will soon be the guideline by which all companies are measured. It is different than the other ISO standards because it has a performance requirement. “I think that is a very good thing. It can’t just be put in place and forgotten. You really have to perform to be up to the standard,” he says.  


New Products Aim to Save Energy 

Consultancies aren’t the only one making an effort to root out unnecessary energy consumption. 

Siemens Industry Inc. works to provide products and services that help customers run lean manufacturing and understand energy savings. Ken Kern, marketing programs manager for Drive Technologies: Motion Control and Low Voltage Drives (Alpharetta, GA) says his new division was specifically set up to help customers understand the mentality behind energy savings. 

“We have a few new services that are LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified, particularly on the wind power generation side of the business. So, at the Siemens Industry level, there is a really renewed emphasis on energy efficiency, both internally and externally.” 

“On the drive side, with what we call the large products, we started about two years ago with an energy efficiency initiative, first as really an educational type of thing where we realized that drives can save energy. We took on the initiative to first look at the very basic types of things; pumps, fans, compressorsthings that have mechanical types of control using a valve, a throttle, a vane or something like that.” 

“Basically what that mechanical control means is that it’s slowing down the flows by controlling the flows, but the motor is still running at 100% speed and is just wasting the energy. Drives can correct that. You can slow the motor down.”

Using controls to help drives become more precise is key. “So if you’ve got to have precise control over the speed of something, controllable drives add a lot of value. As far as the drives products go, we offer a general standard-purpose drive that is fully regenerative front-end unit. So now you have a saleable priced drive that fits into a lower horsepower kind of market with a re-gen type application. We have our distributed control drives which are IP56 rated,” Kern concludes. 

Ryan Legg, marketing and product management for the CNC side of Siemens Drive Technologies & Motion Control (Elk Grove Village, IL), supports Sinumerik Ctrl-Energy CNC systems from Siemens. Sorter from Cengage

“We have introduced a new feature in our Sinumerik CNCs which is called control-energy,” which Legg says has taken energy savings to the next level by building software into the control. “We break it down into two different areas: control-energy analysis, which is the first area. Then we have control-energy profile,” he says. “This control energy is also called cntrl-e. The user accesses this on the CNC screen by simply pressing the “Control” and “e” keys on the keyboard. It’s a neat way to set it uplike a macro. As for the analysis segment, we built in a program that analyzes the energy consumption on the machine. It gives the customer the ability to see how energy consumption changes with different parts or machine setups.” 

Bosch Rexroth Corp. is highly focused on many areas of energy savings. Scott Hibbard, VP of technology, says, “We’ve come up with a package called the IndraDrive Mi where we’ve embedded the drive in the motor so it’s all one package. Our original goal was to reduce the cabinet volume. But what happened was that the drives began sharing power just by the configuration of the design. The cable that makes its way from one IndraDrive Mi to the next is actually a DC bus, receiving power from one common supply, so all of these axes that might be around a big loader gantry on a camshaft or crankshaft line, for example, are suddenly connected and can share power. Using this configuration, when one axis is accelerating while another is decelerating, they share power. A regenerative system can easily be justified because you only need one for the whole system,” Hibbard says.  

“One of the biggest energy saving technologies as far as market interest is in the hydraulics technology area; our family of variable-speed hydraulic pumps, which we call Sytronix. A traditional hydraulic pump is running all the time. When not producing work, it is just pushing oil around in a circle. This wastes energy and generates heat. If the building is climate controlled, then even more energy is used to get that heat outside the building.”  

Bosch Rexroth took the variable-speed benefit further and offers a servodrive on the pump systems. On top of the faster response time of an electric servo, this immediately gives options because a servodrive provides intelligence that can actually link into the process. “The pump is in lock step with what the process is doing. If it’s an injection molding machine, for instance, just when you’re going to need the power, the servo can see what’s going on and accelerate to provide force as it is required,” Hibbard says. 

One small saver that Bosch Rexroth recently introduced is targeted toward simple hydraulic valves. “We came up with a little box, about 1 × 1 × 0.5" [25 × 25 × 13 mm], that sits right on top of the valve and controls the energy going into the solenoid. A lot of energy is sent to drive the spool when it is first turned it on, but after a second or so, it throttles it back and it goes into sleep mode. There is enough energy to hold the valve in the position, but not waste energy that is not needed. Something like this is very easy and low cost to put on any system. Little things like that can wind up saving big in energy costs in the long run.”


Lighting a New Future 

Digital Lumens (Boston) builds intelligent lighting systems for manufacturing facilities. Allison Parker, director of marketing, says that they took a fundamentally different approach to lighting, with energy efficiency as the prime goal.  

“We have taken LEDs and put them into intelligent lighting systems for industrial applications. Three years ago you could not use LEDs in industrial situations because they were not bright enough. Today they are. Manufacturing facilities typically require very high light levels,” she says. 

“At the fixturing level, we integrate an accuracy sensor, a harvesting sensor and we put a CPU...into every single light fixture. This allows us to store instructions that tell that light what it’s supposed to do, how it is supposed to behave. And it gathers data about how much energy that light is using—how much it is on and how much it is off.” 

Bosch Rexroth 1This smart lighting gets smarter over time because the data is turned into charts that show it any way the lighting is needed. “Once you figure out how long you want lights to be on in any specific area you can see how changes to lighting scheduling affects your energy use. Part of the system is the software that generates the reports,” Parker says. 


Case Histories in Energy Savings 

Cengage Learning is a company that delivers textbooks and educational materials around the world. Their warehousing is as elaborate as any found anywhere: nine distribution centers and 5500 employees serving 20 countries. The US headquarters for Cengage Learning Distribution Center (Independence, KY) had been running hot and heavy in terms of energy inefficiency. Joe Steffney, senior vice president, global distribution, and Rich Eby, vice president, distribution/engineering knew something had to be done.

“We have several issues that we’ve taken on. The first is changing all lighting from quartz halogen to T-5 fluorescent bulbs. It is a huge energy saving for us and also a much safer product,” Steffney says.” 

“A sensor system actually controls the lighting,” Eby adds. “These are motion and control sensors. When somebody passes an aisle, it senses the motion and it turns the light on. We can program it to how long we want that light to stay on, whether it’s 5 min, 10 min or longer. It will keep the light on for that amount of time and then turn it off.” 

Compared to the lighting system the company had previously, Eby says that they are now saving a little over $50,000 a year just in this facility. “It paid for itself completely in nine months,” he notes. 

“Of our nine distribution centers around the world, three are third-party facilities. We control six. We are always the beta test site because we are the biggest. Then we roll out changes. We just finished a similar retrofit in the UK. Then we will do the facility in Canada and Mexico and so forth. If the saving on each facility is even a third of what we are saving here, it will be like getting revenue in from a whole new profitable business,” Steffney says.  

Also, all plant equipment is battery powered and its 8.5 miles (13.7 km) of conveyors are now controlled by motion sensors so they do not run when there is not enough work. 

The Lighting Quotient (West Haven, CT) is a beneficiary of CEEF (Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund) support. Allison Shemitz Walker, chairman & CEO, says that they did an upgrade on their plant with the fund and United Illuminating Co. (New Haven, CT). “We are a manufacturer of specification-grade lighting for architectural, office, institutional applications and we are very involved in the energy efficiency space, and we occupy a very old historical building that used to be the American Mills company. It really needed an upgrade. Since we are trying to help people attain LEED certification for their own buildings, when our HVAC system simply died in the spring of 2011, we felt it was time to walk the walk, not just talk the talk,” she says.

The main project was being able to decommission a very old and inefficient boiler system and put in a state-of-the-art heating system. The new control for the HVAC system provides the company with a mechanism whereby they can actually top out the air conditioning during peak summer weather and time of day conditions.  

“We knew that the energy codes are going to require us to have daylight load shedding or demand load shedding response in our lighting systems, so we purchased a system that would actually be able to be integrated into an entire building information and management control system. We are expecting to manage not only the HVAC loads but also the lighting, electrical, security, and our water systems as well. This is long-term planning for the plant. It will allow us to respond to any changes or needs immediately and also respond to the needs of the utilities which will save us money. It’s a win-win for all of us. We are expecting a significant gas savings, around 40%-plus.”

Anomatic Corp. (Newark, OH) is a full-service contract manufacturer for the cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry for packaging production, both product, labeling and end packaging assembly. 

Steve Rusch, director, marketing, says that its anodizing operation is very dependent on the chemicals used and, therefore, as with all petroleum-based chemicals, they experience a spike in cost when overall petroleum prices go up.

“We have to find ways to optimize our systems, reduce our usage and also try to recycle for reuse as well. We do a lot of chemical recycling on siteparticularly of phosphoric acid, which is the largest component used in our anodizing process,” he says. 

“We have a system that is capable of reclaiming about 65% of phosphoric acid. The rest still needs to be virgin material.” 

Another system Anomatic put in place is a cleaning system that not only cleans but recycles. “When components are fabricated you have to use a petroleum-based lubricant. It...must be removed prior to parts being anodized. We had used a water-based method but it was very energy intensive. So we installed a next-generation solvent cleaning system. It not only reduces our carbon footprint, but it is capable of recapturing 90% of that petroleum lubricant for reuse. Compared to the equivalent cleaning process, the water-based method that I mentioned, it requires 92% less energy,” he says. ME 


This article was first published in the February 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF


Published Date : 2/1/2012

Editor's Picks

Advanced Manufacturing Media - SME
U.S. Office  |  One SME Drive, Dearborn, MI 48128  |  Customer Care: 800.733.4763  |  313.425.3000
Canadian Office  |  7100 Woodbine Avenue, Suite 312, Markham, ON, L3R 5J2  888.322.7333
Tooling U  |   3615 Superior Avenue East, Building 44, 6th Floor, Cleveland, OH 44114  |  866.706.8665