Industrial Utility Efficiency    


This northeastern U.S. automotive manufacturing facility spends $269,046 annually on energy to operate their compressed air system. This figure will increase as electric rates are raised from their current average of .019 cents per kWh. The set of projects, in this system assessment, reduce these energy costs by $110,166 or forty percent. Reliability of compressed air quality, however, is the main concern in this plant and the primary focus of this system assessment.
Ahresty Wilmington Corporation (AWC) was founded in 1988 and is located in Wilmington, Ohio. Currently AWC employs over 900 people with sales totaling $192 million. They have grown steadily, all while continuously improving and staying on the leading edge of technology. AWC is a tier-1 automotive supplier servicing their entire customer base in the United States. AWC has established an efficient and integrated production system that incorporates die-casting, finishing, machining, and assembly operation using just-in-time production methods to provide its customers with quality products at a competitive price.
Nissan North America operates on a massive scale. The company’s powertrain assembly plant in Decherd, Tennessee, alone encompasses 1.1 million square feet, and manufactures engines for 14 different vehicles. The facility also handles crankshaft forgings, cylinder block castings, and other machining applications. Over the course of one year, the powertrain plant churns out approximately 1.4 million engines, an equal number of crankshaft forgings, and 456,000 cylinder block castings.
The fundamental question this article poses is, “Are factories happy with vendors of manufacturing equipment (using pneumatic components) dictating their energy footprint requirements?” Compressed air is a significant energy consumer in every plant and to fully understand the ramifications of the imbedded misconceptions with respect to compressed air supply, one must take into consideration the actual point of use needs for compressed air.
Many passenger cars on roads in Germany contain efficiency concepts that make a considerable contribution to lowering emissions. Automotive manufacturers such as VW have gone even further than this, by applying efficiency strategies in their own value added chain. Because the benefits of pneumatics in automotive industry production processes have seen pneumatic actuation win over other drive technologies, efficient use of compressed air plays a key role in increasing energy efficiency.
There are three main segments in Visteon's climate group are climate systems, powertrain cooling and engine induction. Climate systems include refrigeration compressors, fluid transport, heat exchangers, battery cooling modules, climate controls, auto defog/demist systems, and multi-zone HVAC systems. Powertrain cooling systems include heat exchangers (radiators, condensers, charge-air, exhaust-gas), airflow management, and diesel and hybrid thermal management. Engine induction includes air induction systems and intake manifolds.
Encouraged by government regulators, the conversion to waterborne paints is now moving into the collision repair and refinishing industry. The conversion to waterborne paints is proving to have implications for the compressed air systems in the shops. This document provides a checklist of compressed air system topics to ensure a successful conversion to waterborne paints.
“We are close to becoming a zero-landfill facility. Zero-waste is the goal,” Mike explained. Company literature on the Green Factory initiative, coordinated in North America by Karen Heyob, Associate Chief Engineer for Honda of America Mfg., Inc. , says the initiative is designed to reduce the impact of Honda’s manufacturing operations on the environment. This includes efforts to reduce the energy intensity of production, as well as initiatives to reduce waste generation, air emissions, and water use at all of the company’s manufacturing facilities in North America.
“First there are the old conventions. The majority of compressor houses still employ fixed speed compressors and a cascaded pressure switch control system. This arrangement will be familiar to many, but it is outdated and inefficient, and needs to be changed. There is a comfort factor with familiar technology, which is exacerbated by constant time pressure due to other day-today responsibilities and a lack of information and good advice on what can be achieved.”  
A Tier 1 automotive plant was spending $364,259 annually on electricity to operate their compressed air system. This figure was expected to increase as electric rates were forecasted to rise from their current average of 7.16 cents per kWh. Our firm, Air Power USA, conducted a full supply and demand-side compressed air system assessment. The set of projects recommended by the assessment, would reduce these energy costs by $218,670 or 60%.
The new paint specification, for Mercedes Benz Collison Repair Centers like Compact Kars, is for waterborne paints. “The new waterborne paints contain only two (2) pounds of volatile organic compounds (VOC) compared to 5.65 pounds per gallon of VOC’s present in solvent-based paints,” according to Mr. Elder. “For this reason, Mercedes Benz is asking all certified facilities to convert to waterborne paints.”