Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Plastics

Berry Global was established in 1967 as a small hometown company, based in Evansville, Indiana. Today it is still headquartered in Evansville but has grown to 48,000+ global employees and more than 295 locations. Generating $12.6 billion in 2019 pro forma net sales, Berry Global creates innovative packaging and protection solutions.
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.
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.
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 by some 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, with its low cost of ownership, pneumatics when properly used remains a viable and many times preferable energy source for a given application. 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.
Bottling companies and breweries, in California, are benefiting from a three-step system assessment process aimed at reducing the electrical consumption of their compressed air systems. The three-step process reduces compressed air demand in bottling lines by focusing on open blowing and idle equipment, and then improves the specic power (reducing the energy consumption) of the air compressors.
CVP System, Inc.’s MasterPACKer Eco+™ Breaks Down Barriers to Cost and Energy Savings Through Improved Modified Atmosphere Packaging Technology Worldwide, Tesco, a global grocery and general merchandise retailer headquartered in Cheshunt, U.K., initiated the demand for modified atmosphere packaging technology in the early 70s. It became one of the first grocers to move away from employing an onsite butcher to using a central processing/distribution system.
As in most industrial categories, compressed air is critical to the operations of a plastics plant whether it is blow molding, injection molding, or other processes. The opportunities to improve supply side (compressor room) efficiency are similar to all industrial compressed air systems, but are even more prevalent in some plastics facilities, especially blow molding.
Most P.E.T. bottle-blowing machines require anywhere from 550 psig (38 barg) to 580 psig (40 barg) and an air flow of 247 cfm FAD (420 m3/hr) to 3700 cfm FAD (6290 m3/hr). The air compressor technology used most prevalently for this application is the double-acting, oil-free, water-cooled, reciprocating air compressor. With the higher pressures and air flows that are required, the P.E.T. bottle blowing market is a strong niche market for the double-acting oil-free reciprocating (piston) compressors.