Two years ago, sales were picking up and we began operating six extrusion lines on most days. We had to bring in some portable chillers, to keep up, and we started looking at buying a larger cooling system. We wanted to get rid of the portable chillers and have room to grow into four more extrusion lines. The new system we looked at was a 100-ton system that would have cost us around $150,000 in capital and installation and with a larger monthly electricity bill. We were about to buy the new 100-ton chiller when our President, Abe Gaskins said, “Hold-on, can we replace the Liquid Ring pumps with something that doesn’t consume water”? That was our “Eureka!” moment.
Stretch blow molding equipment requires a significant amount of energy—both compressed air and electrical—to produce bottles. Creating an effective and efficient process, as well as monitoring and maintaining optimal process settings, can result in significant energy cost reduction. These efforts will also help produce containers that meet all of the required quality standards.
This plastic extrusion factory spent an estimated $180,711 annually on energy to operate the compressed air system at their Midwestern facility. Based on the air system operating 8,760 hours per year, the group of projects recommended below could reduce these energy costs by an estimated $116,520 or 67% of current use. Estimated costs for completing the recommended projects total $20,100. This figure represents a simple payback period of 2 months.
A recently completed energy efficiency improvement programme at the Britvic Beckton bottling plant has resulted in substantial energy savings and a positive impact on the company’s carbon emissions allocation.
The NPE 2012 International Plastics Showcase was held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, April 2-5. More than 1,900 companies exhibited -including Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine whose “Plastics Blow Molding March 2012 Issue” was in the literature bins at all the hall entrances. Over 920,000 square feet of exhibition space was used and while the visitor numbers are still preliminary, it’s expected that registrations to attend the NPE 2012 ended up well over 50,000.
A plastics molding plant had engaged us to conduct an ‘on-site’ Energy Assessment of their facility. The annual ‘spend’ for electricity, natural gas, and water was about $3.2 million for this modern 275,000 square foot, fully air-conditioned facility. During the Review, several opportunities were identified and delineated in lighting, HVAC, process ventilation, the water systems and energy supply contracts. However, the most significant savings were in their compressed air system.
NPE2012 will be the largest plastics exposition in the Western Hemisphere, providing access to North America’s $400-billion/year plastics marketplace and serving as a hub of trade for plastics companies from South America, Europe, and Asia. In 2009, NPE attracted 1,851 exhibitors on 977,660 sq.ft. (88,00 sq. m) of net space; 33% of them came directly from outside the U.S. More than 45,000 people from 19,000 companies in 101 countries registered for NPE2009.
Treating compressed air as a true utility and outsourcing the entire process is a growing trend in the industry. If a plant does not generate their own power, provide their own water or deliver their own natural gas, then why not treat compressed air requirements in the same manner? This article will use a recent project as a case study to show the benefits one factory received by making the decision to outsource compressed air like a utility.
Machine builders aiming to improve the energy efficiency of their machines tend to focus on using energy media other than Pneumatics (typically Electro-Mechanical or Hydraulic) since Pneumatics, as traditionally applied, is viewed as inefficient due to factors like leakage and over-pressurization (i.e.: supplying a higher pressure in an actuator to accomplish a task which is endemic in practice). But they shouldn't. When generating and using compressed air, it's true that there are many places in the system where energy can be lost, however targeted measures within a comprehensive energy saving concept can prevent these losses and significantly reduce energy consumption at the machine level.
This facility is part of a corporation producing molded plastic products. There are many injection and extrusion molding processes. The factory was spending $94,934 annually on energy to operate their compressed air system. This system assessment detailed seven (7) project areas where yearly energy savings totaling $53,191 could be found with a minimal investment of $4,170.
The PET industry is in a state of flux right now. A number of new bottle blowing facilities are being brought on-line. They are in the “discovery” phase right now as they realize how challenging the required compressed air systems are to manage – from an energy efficiency standpoint. The average high-volume stretch blow molder (SBM) working with PET usually has 2,000 to 4,000 horsepower of installed air compressors with the related energy costs running between $1 to $4 million per year. This typically represents 35-40% of the facilities’ total energy bill.
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