Energy and resource efficiency have become ingrained in the consciousness of most branches of industry. Indeed, looking at the automotive industry, for instance, which has long since realised the benefit of conscious energy management, we can see that it’s miles ahead of the game. Correspondingly, there has already been a strategic impact on this sector’s overall supply chain. New production systems are being planned and purchased directly from an energy-related perspective. So, in the automotive industry, Weidmüller is acting as a partner for specific solutions at machine sub-level (i.e. for robots and workpiece carriers, for example).
“It is clear to see that the trend in the automotive industry is developing less in the direction of ever-faster cycle times and more in the direction of increasingly more efficient ones,” affirms Michael Matthesius, Head of Global Industry Management Machinery. “How much energy is consumed by a single robot movement? And how can that be efficiently reconciled with the key figures of the downstream conveyor belt? We are confronted with questions such as these and answer them with the help of our integrated solution system, which comprises consultancy, measurement and controlling solutions.”
Reconciling ecological responsibility with good economic sense
Energy efficiency instead of speed – that sounds like ecological responsibility, don’t you think? But that
The automotive industry has long since realised the benefit of conscious energy management. More efficient cycle times take the place of speed without compromise
would mean good economic sense being left by the wayside, right? No – quite the contrary!
“More efficient cycle times by no means involve slowing down production processes,” explains Mr Matthesius. “To illustrate this, let’s think about the red light for a moment. Generally speaking, you would never approach a traffic light with your foot to the floor, only to have to brake hard just before you reach it and then wait on it turning green. Rather, you would calculate how much longer the light will remain on red for, reduce your speed accordingly and, in the best-case scenario, you no longer have to brake and come to a complete stop before it switches to green. This idea of driving efficiently without losing any time can indeed be readily applied to production processes. Even a robot shouldn’t process parts any faster than the speed the downstream conveyor belt allows for further processing. Efficiently harmonising processes such as these is one of the core tasks involved in effective and, above all else, economical energy management.”
Energy monitoring as a plug-and-play solution
Not every segment of industry is as advanced as the automotive sector, where energy-efficient automation is already an integral part of the supply chain. This is precisely why Weidmüller provides its energy monitoring box – a solution that can be easily retrofitted for existing machines too. Equipped with energy measuring devices, communication components and analogue signal converters, you can get the most out of existing systems with the box – without any need to directly intervene a great deal in the processes themselves. Since this is supplemented by a consultancy service and software support for controlling energy, Weidmüller’s customers receive a complete system solution which can suffice until an energy management system according to ISO 50001 is implemented.
Michael Matthesius, Head of Global Industry Management Machinery, knows about the energy challenges of machine and plant manufacturers
It is advisable that any “energy management newbies” initially approach the issue from a broad angle. Using a power monitor, for example, it is possible to measure power consumption in the production hall. These initial measurements can be used as a basis for taking and evaluating further measurements at a later point in time. As the number of measuring points increase, automated measurements and software systems come into play, so as to manage the growing data volume. In this way, the solution is gradually extended in a modular fashion, right down to the smallest of details. But first of all, it is important to develop an appropriate level of awareness – and only then to take the first step!
In this regard, there are no limits to creativity. “In our very own paint shop, we have discovered that we can save 100,000 kWh per year by using a low-emission paint,” continues Mr Matthesius, providing an example of Weidmüller’s own energy management system. “Our partners can benefit considerably from experiences such as these in terms of finding out what exactly in their companies guzzles energy. But we don’t just offer measuring and monitoring solutions; we’re happy to share our know-how too.”
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Published in March 2015
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