Achieving higher levels of energy-efficient motion controls in manufacturing plants requires more than the installation of higher efficiency motors and drives, reports Design News. It requires a complete design and engineering analysis, which includes the use of energy monitoring and software modeling tools to help engineers make the best decisions on how to reduce energy consumption in their machine designs.
Sal Spada, an industry analyst for ARC Advisory Group, told Design News there is also a move by engineers toward mechatronic solutions, taking into account how to improve mechanical efficiencies together with electromechanical efficiency.
More attention is also being paid to overall duty cycles, peak torque issues and minimizing energy consumption beyond worst case component selection.
Rich Mintz, product marketing for SEW Eurodrive agreed. He said in the article “with energy-efficient motion control, there are many factors than just the motor to consider particularly since motors are at best one-sixth the total energy loss potential for an electromechanical drivetrain.
In some cases, retrofitting the motor is the answer. For example, ArcelorMittal replaced a high energy consumption 3,500-horsepower motor used in the rolling mill plant’s descaling operation with a variable-frequency drive that allows the motor to idle when the descaling pumps are not in use. The savings: more than $200,000 annually on energy bills.
Spada says there are tools available from some of the major automation suppliers that will help machine builders identify some of these energy-efficient solutions. The tools look more closely at mechatronic solutions and provide analytical tools for evaluating potential efficiency improvements, reports Design News.
An example cited in the article is Rockwell’s Motion Analyzer, which recently added an efficiency analysis tool. This tool helps engineers select the best-suited drive-motor-actuator combination for their applications by identifying system losses in specific devices. It also provides energy costs.
The tool identifies losses in the motor through the entire mechatronic chain down to the load including gear box losses, transmission losses and losses in linear slides and other devices in the system. It also allows engineers to choose multiple solution concepts and sort or rank them in a list by cost or other parameters.
The Department of Energy says the industrial sector uses more than 30 percent of U.S. energy and is responsible for nearly 30 percent of U.S. carbon emissions, which makes it a suitable sector to target for energy-efficient projects.