Festo Presents New Research on Energy Savings
The research network “EnEffAH” presented findings on the efficient use of resources in production. On June 25, 2012 Festo presented the most significant findings together with partners from industry and research.
The overall share of electricity consumption in Germany due to industry amounted to around 43 percent in 2010. Operators derive the greatest energy-savings potential in automated systems from the choice of an optimal technology mix of electrics and pneumatics and from the appropriate matching of drive components. The Research Network for Energy Efficiency in Production in the Field of Drive and Handling Technology (EnEffAH) concluded that in future, these factors could make for energy savings of up to 70 percent in production. On June 25, 2012 the automation technology provider Festo presented the most significant findings together with partners from industry and research.
Fundamental energy-saving concepts – from the correct matching of drive systems up to optimised operating strategies – are the outcome of four years of research. For this purpose, Festo collaborated in the "EnEffAH" project with companies and institutes such as Kaeser Kompressoren AG, the Institute for System Dynamics, the Institute for Power Electronics and Electrical Drives of the University of Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research.
Operators improve energy efficiency by appropriate matching of systems
"The research findings show that the energy efficiency of a system is determined to a large extent by the choice of the appropriate technology mix. This in turn depends on the requirements of the application. It was therefore important to us to make users aware of the individual strengths of the complementary technologies of pneumatics and electrics," explained Dr. Peter Post, Head of Research and Programme Strategy at Festo. The research network developed methods and simulation tools to assist in the planning, design and operation of facilities – including the electrical and pneumatic energy supply chain. This will ensure that the insights can be put into practice. "Well thought-out drive component design offers potential savings of up to 70 percent," Post emphasised. By means of a tool from the research network, for instance, the properties (dynamic, static) of technical systems can thus be simulated and analysed; the behaviour of a drive system in terms of its energy consumption can also be predicted and the most suitable component for a particular application determined.
Taking an overall view of the energy chain in automation
"Especially in the use of compressed air as an energy medium, the energy- and cost-efficient operation of industrial facilities necessitates a holistic view – from the generation, preparation and distribution of compressed air up to its practical application. For this purpose, the research network has investigated the entire energy chain in automation and developed a tool chain that will help operators to use energy more efficiently," said Post. Along the compressed-air chain, software-based tools have been created that allow the systems to be optimally designed and operated in all areas. For Post, the major challenge is generating compressed air as efficiently as possible on the one hand, while optimising its consumption on the other.
Boosting the efficiency of electric drive systems though energy recovery
The "EnEffAH" network investigated efficiency-optimising measures for electrical drives for application in start-stop operation. New control and regulation concepts, along with monitoring and diagnostic functions, will ensure the energy-efficient operation of electric drive systems. In addition, the project participants identified a great deal of energy savings potential through methods for the recovery and intermediate storage of energy in this field of application. Energy was recovered, for example, by storing braking energy in an intermediate circuit; in a trial run with a gantry drive unit, the energy savings over conventional operations amounted to 17 percent.
About the project
"EnEffAH" is a cooperative project that was carried out between October 2008 and June 2012 as part of the 5th and 6th Energy Research Programs of the German Federal Government; it was realised with a total expenditure of €2.6 million. The objective of the project was to develop methods, tools and products for ensuring energy-efficient automation in production units, especially in pneumatically and electrically powered handling systems.