One of the key challenges facing the Plastics industry amongst others is reducing and managing energy costs with the Plastics industry usage now estimated at 4% of global power usage and with electricity costs continuing to rise, this problem will only get more challenging.
Energy costs are always somebody else’s problem and the plastics processing industry generally regards the energy as an overhead and as a single cost. This is untrue, energy is both a variable and a controllable cost. Most processors could easily reduce energy costs (without large investments) and increase profits through simple good energy management practice.
The vital questions before you can start to reduce energy costs is the need to understand where, when, why and how much energy you are using. This information provides the benchmarks and signposts for improvement. The main electrical energy users are motors and drives, heaters, cooling systems and lighting systems. A simple site energy distribution map will show where energy is being used. The chart below shows an aggregated view of a Plastics Company’s typical energy usage.
Yet motors are often overlooked when considering energy usage. The motors in the main processing equipment such as compounders, granulators, moulders and extruders are obvious, but the majority of motors are ‘hidden’ in other equipment such as compressors, pumps and fans. When the energy cost of running a motor for 1000 hours can exceed the purchase cost and when the ‘whole life’ costs are often over 100 times the purchase cost then failing to take action with all the motors in a factory is expensive.
Lighting also represents a great opportunity for energy saving. Even though typical lighting costs are less than 10% of all electricity costs in the Plastics industry, it is an area where in many cases savings of greater than 50% can be achieved through improved technology choice and intelligent lighting controls.
Using the basic premise of Torque being directly proportional to the square of applied voltage, the Integra motor controller tracks the load applied to the shaft of a AC induction motor every 83 microseconds and intelligently and dynamically changes the voltage being applied, resulting in reduced current and power consumption. This energy saving feature is in addition to all standard soft starter and braking features.
The Integra is utilised by many companies in key industries such as Manufacturing, Mining and Petrochemicals where single speed motor applications with variable loading conditions and extended operating hours are most prevalent.
As well as single speed moulders, Granulators in particular are very often seen as one of the best applications for energy saving with Integra. In addition to the standard Integra energy saving capabilities, the Granulators also very often can take advantage of two energy saving “Apps” that come with the Integra, namely a proximity sensor that enables movement to trigger the motor starting and the Timed cut off feature that turns the motor off after a defined period of time.
These capabilities very often provide energy savings in the 20-40% range which can have a significant effect on the overall Cost of ownership, providing much more compelling cost of ownership for the technology buyer.
It is very well known in the motors industry heat is the biggest cause of motor failure. By allowing a motor to reach and operate at a temperature 10°C above its specified maximum temperature rating will reduce the motor’s expected life by 50%, this is often referred to as the motor “half-life” rule
The Integra is proven to dramatically reduce both motor heat and vibration when in energy saving mode which invariably reduces motor failure rates and increases motor up time, both significant contributors to the overall cost of ownership.
The Integra is available in various models with power ratings sizes up to 800kW and voltages between 240v – 480v, 575c and 690v. The technology is manufactured in the UK by Suresense Technologies and has been CE and ETL approved.