It’s fairly well accepted that manufacturing processes now have to take sustainability into account along with increased productivity. Put simply, production machinery must offer minimum resource consumption along with maximum efficiency. And one of the key technologies that will help deliver this is image processing. Energy consumption and the use of raw materials can be
Energy is expensive, and more efficient use can make a significant difference on the bottom line. But there’s much more to energy efficiency than reducing operating costs. This was demonstrated in practical terms by Emmebi, a long-established family business making high-quality interior design products at Brianza in the heartland of the Italian furniture industry.
At the company’s joinery and finishing shops at Cesanao Maderno, Emmebi invested in a powerful dust-extraction system that can trap even the finest and lightest particles of wood-dust. This is vital for maintaining a safe working environment and also to avoid damage to production equipment.
However, it used to be very expensive to run. It has three extraction fans, each powered by a 45 kW motor, and it ran throughout the day, with a short break at lunchtime. The annual power consumption was about 260 MWh, and cost more than 30,000€.
About 18 months ago, Luca Peverelli, manager of the production facility, worked with Mipro, an Omron Solution Partner, to analyse this electricity consumption. Following a careful and detailed analysis using Omron evaluation software, Mipro came up with the relatively simple expedient of fitting inverters to the three motors, which makes it possible to run them at a lower speed with no loss of performance.
The lower operating speed meant 25 per cent less power was needed to run the motors, and depending on production requirements, the motors sometimes only need to draw about 15 kW each – a third of the nominal power. The inverters also allow the extractor fans to be started and stopped repeatedly to meet production requirements. This couldn’t be done before because of electrical and mechanical stresses caused by start-up peaks in the electricity current.
The benefits were immediate – and not just in terms of cost savings, although these were substantial:
• In the first 12 months of running the extraction system with inverters, Emmebi cut the power consumption to about 100 MWh – less than 40 per cent of the previous year’s usage
• Emebi’s environmental impact was immediately reduced
• The investment cost was repaid during the first few months of operation
• Reducing the speed and operating frequency of the fans has cut noise levels, thus improving working conditions
• Maintenance work has been virtually eliminated because of reduced starting stresses and more efficient electricity distribution
Intelligent energy management involves a step-by-step process of identifying all the elements in a production process where efficiency improvements can be made. This kind of careful evaluation can result in reduced costs, a lower environmental impact – and more.