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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.
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.”
This automotive assembly facility has tremendous peaks and valleys in compressed air demand. Our audit using flow meters and pressure transducers with calibrated gauges has proven this. Our Phase 1 audit recommends the use of storage tanks and flow meters to reduce air consumption while stabilizing pressure.
A recent comparative vacuum technology study performed by Dr. Kingman Yee, as part of a Chrysler Summer Intern Professors Program, found that air consumption could be reduced by 98% when equipping a robot’s end-of-arm tooling with COAXÆ technology and a Vacustat™ check valve.