This is the last article of a five-part series on industrial energy efficiency. This month we will address how Compressed Air Systemsare prime targets for energy efficiency measures.
Compressed air is used in many industrial processes, such as sandblasting, injection molding, spray painting, and equipment heating and cooling, to name just a few. Air compression motors have high electrical demands. In fact, up to 20% of total electrical use in certain industries can come from air compression systems.
In many cases, leaks are caused by bad or improperly applied thread sealant. This is why it’s so important to select high-quality components, and install them properly with the appropriate thread sealant.
Did you know that non-operating equipment can be an additional source of leaks? To remedy this problem, any equipment no longer in use should be isolated with a valve in the distribution system.
You can also reduce air leaks by lowering the demand air pressure of the system. The lower the pressure differential across a hole or leak, the lower the rate of flow. A lower rate of flow translates into reduced leakage rates.
Once leaks have been repaired, the compressor control system should be re-evaluated and adjusted (if necessary) to realize the total savings potential. A proactive leak prevention program will go a long way toward improving the performance of your plant’s compressed air systems.
Recovering Waste Heat
As much as 80%-90% of the electrical energy used by an industrial air compressor is converted into heat. In many cases, a heat recovery unit can recover 50%-90% of this available thermal energy and put it to use heating air or water.
This is the fourth article of a five-part series on industrial energy efficiency. This month we cover Part Four of the series: Start-Up Spikes. This occurs whenever energy-consuming equipment and systems are started simultaneously.
Start-up spikes are an all-too-common occurrence in most manufacturing and distribution facilities. When energy-hogging equipment is started up at the beginning of a shift, it can often lead to unintended peak-demand energy charges.
This staging of load ensures that power quality is maintained and any on-site generators are not overloaded during start-up. In addition to the sequential start-up, the load control system would monitor on-site generators, removing power load from the system if the generators become overloaded.
A Case Study
Start-up spikes can sometimes go undetected unless you’re monitoring your energy data. The following situation, reported by Industrial IP Advantage, is a case in point:
A manufacturer’s energy consumption profile documented a significant spike in demand that occurred monthly, without fail, on the same day and at the same time. A submeter pinpointed the source of the spike. During lunch break on the same day of the month, the maintenance staff simultaneously started all of the production equipment for testing purposes.
Staging the start-up – achieving a steady state with one system before turning on the next – would avoid the spike. But the optimal energy management strategy also included scheduling the once-monthly testing at 6 a.m. during the power utility’s off-peak demand period. The bump in overtime costs is minimal relative to paying peak rates over the course of an entire year.
This example underscores the importance of routine energy monitoring, so that start-up spikes can be pinpointed and eliminated before they become a problem.
Up to 20% of total electrical use in certain industries comes from air compression systems. Our last article in this series will address how these systems are prime targets for energy efficiency measures.
This is the third article of a five-part series on industrial energy efficiency. This month we cover Part Three of the series: Weeknight Setbacks. This is the practice of reducing or eliminating an industrial facility’s energy usage during weeknight off-periods.
Energy is complex. With so many moving pieces, it’s easy to get overwhelmed when trying to improve efficiency. And industrial facilities, with multiple independently-controlled systems, are equally complex.
Is there any equipment routinely left on that could be shut off? Any motors operating unnecessarily (such as a ceiling fan in an unoccupied space)?
What about computers and office equipment? Any that don’t go into “sleep” mode after a period of inactivity? This could be a real power drain.
With regard to lighting, occupancy sensors and timers can capture significant energy savings. But they need to be combined with lighting systems that can be effectively controlled. Is your staff trained to turn off all lights when closing?
Space heaters are huge energy hogs. If they’re being used in your facility, that usually indicates poor HVAC system control. You’ll want to investigate.
Is your rooftop ventilation unit equipped with exhaust fans? You can set them to run only when spaces are occupied.
Did you know that heating and cooling your facility can account for up to 50% of your energy use?
One of the most cost-effective means of reducing energy consumption is by setting the temperature back during weeknight off-periods. (Typical thermostats are set between 65°F to 70°F for heating and 72°F to 78°F for cooling.)
The Department of Energy projects that you can reduce your energy cost by 5% – 12% with a 3°F to 10°F setback. A 10°F to 20°F setback can result in a 9% – 18% energy cost reduction!
Programmable thermostats are typically classified as three types:
Electromechanical thermostats use an electrical clock and a series of pins and levers to control temperature. These are the least expensive programmable thermostats. They’re also easy to control, but offer limited flexibility.
Digital thermostats allow you to tailor settings to varying schedules for different days of the week, or up to four different “setpoints” per day.
Occupancy sensorthermostats maintain the setback temperature until triggered by a person entering the controlled space. The trigger mechanism can be a switch, button, light, or motion sensor.
Is It Worth It?
Once you’ve implemented a weeknight setback program, you need to determine if it’s paying off.
Fortunately, new technologies now allow industrial businesses to compare energy use over time to see how setback sequences change. Having access to historical demand data to create a relative performance benchmark is a key consideration when contemplating an energy efficiency strategy.
According to the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Dayton, the easiest way to track your progress is by using data analysis software that compiles available temperature, production and utility billing data. Anything more complicated may be too complex for widespread use.
The EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager is a reasonable choice. Not only does this online tool measure energy and water consumption, but it tracks greenhouse gas emissions as well. And it can be used to benchmark the performance of a single building or multiple buildings.
Hard starts are rough on equipment, causing premature wear and tear. And they can lead to unintended peak- demand charges. Our next article, “Start-Up Spikes,” will look at how to avoid them.
Remarkably, plastic can be made by simply polymerizing air pollution.
Introducing Newlight Technologies
Newlight Technologies, founded in 2003, is a company that began by posing the simple question: “Why not use greenhouse gas emissions as a resource to make materials?”
Per Mark Herrema, company co-counder and CEO, “After a decade of research, Newlight discovered how to combine greenhouse gas with air to produce a high-strength material called AirCarbon, at nine times higher yield than previous—a material that is strong enough to replace oil-based plastics, and made with carbon that would have otherwise become a part of the air.”
Carbon Pollution: A Real Problem
This disparity leads to great costs not only for the environment, but also for our health and the economy. According to a CBS report, failure to cut carbon pollution could cost the U.S. economy $150 billion per year. But what Newlight proposes is a game changer–utilizing AirCarbon as a plastic alternative will reduce fossil fuel use, reduce the carbon footprint, and reduce costs.
From Greenhouse Gas to Plastic
The process of converting carbon into plastics starts with capturing concentrated methane-based carbon emissions from farms, landfills, and energy facilities that would otherwise become part of the air we breathe.
The captured carbon is fed into a reactor, where added enzymes strip out carbon and oxygen, and then rearrange it into AirCarbon. AirCarbonl is then melted down, cooled, and sliced into tiny plastic pellets, the size of shelled pine nuts. From here the AirCarbon thermoplastic pellets can be molded into endless products.
A Revolutionary Material
By weight, AirCarbon is “approximately 40% oxygen from air and 60% carbon and hydrogen from sequestered methane.” The material matches the performance of oil-based plastics and out competes on price.
Just outside the small central Chilean city of Curacaví, situated between the hills of a coastal mountain range, sits a most unusual dwelling. Built in 2009 as a concept project for construction company Infiniski, this home is primarily comprised of three large shipping containers and numerous wooden pallets. Dubbed the “Manifesto House,” the house is a modular and eco-efficient structure designed by Jaime Gaztelu and Mauricio Galeano.
Pallets as Ventilators
The use of the pallets on the exterior gives the house a fantastic texture and conceals the shipping containers like an outer shell, but the pallets also have another purpose. Namely, they provide shade from the strong Chilean sun and allow the home to be naturally cooled, since air can move freely between the slats. In winter, the pallets can be lifted back to allow the sun to warm the metal walls of the house and generate heat.
The home’s architects explain their use of the wooden pallets this way:
“The house uses two types of covers or ‘skin’: wooden panels coming from sustainable forests on one side and recycled mobile pallets on the other. The pallets can open themselves in winter to allow the sun to heat the metal surface of the container walls and close themselves in summer to protect the house from the heat. This skin also serves as an exterior aesthetic finishing helping the house to better integrate in its environment.”
A Look Inside
Inside the home is open and airy. The living room is enclosed by sliding glass doors and hinged screens. A large folding screen is used to create a covered outdoor porch or to shade the interior from the sun when folded down. When open, the space flows onto outdoor patios creating a large indoor-outdoor environment. Geothermal heat pumps help provide additional heating and cooling.
“The Manifesto House represents the Infiniski concept and its potential: Bio-climatic design, recycled, reused materials, non polluting constructive systems, integration of renewable energy.” – Architects Jaime Gaztelu and Mauricio Galeano
The house is divided into two levels, using three recycled de-commissioned maritime shipping containers as structure, and is 1700 square feet at ground level. The containers are completely weather tight and provide the house with necessary structural capacity. One container has been cut in two parts and is used on the first level as the support structure for the two second-level containers. Manifesto House utilizes prefabricated and modular components, allowing for more efficient construction and potential future modifications or extensions.
The Infiniski Concept
Architects Gaztelu and Galeano are Infiniski’s founders and partners. Infiniski’s mission is to build homes cheaply and quickly using sustainable materials while incorporating renewable energy systems. According to Gaztelu and Galeano, “The Manifesto House represents the Infiniski concept and its potential: Bio-climatic design, recycled, reused materials, non polluting constructive systems, integration of renewable energy.”
Bio-climatic design focuses on the construction of buildings that are in harmony with the natural surroundings and local climate. This way, each home’s form and position is adapted to its energy needs within its specific natural surroundings. As Gaztelu explains, “We apply technology to make the house like an organism in the natural environment that, like a flower or a tree, responds to changes in the climate and can also take advantage of them.”
To this end, Manifesto House has been designed to use up to 85% of recycled, reused and eco-friendly materials. These materials include recycled cellulose and cork for insulation; recycled aluminum, iron and wood; noble wood from sustainable forests; ecological painting; and eco-label ceramics. Because of its bio-climatic design and the installation of alternative energy systems, the house achieves 70% autonomy.
The Manifesto House is just one example of numerous unique and eco-friendly projects that Infiniski has undertaken, primarily in Spain and Chile.
Smart pallets are revolutionizing the way we work with our supply chains and move product.
What Is a Smart Pallet?
Per John Vaca, author of Computer and Information Security Handbook, “An Electronic Product Code (EPC) is one common type of data stored in a tag. When written into the tag by an RFID printer, the tag contains a 96-bit string of data. The first eight bits are a header that identifies the version of the protocol. The next 28 bits identify the organization that manages the data for the tag; the EPC Global consortium assigns organization numbers. The next 24 bits are an object class, identifying the kind of product; the last 36 bits are a unique serial number for a particular tag. These last two fields are set by the organization that issued the tag. Rather like a URL, the total electronic product code number can be used as a key into a global database to uniquely identify a particular product.”
The database can hold any data related to the object being tracked. Data flexibility is offered through the use of a computer language called Physical Markup Language (PML). The range of information offered by the database includes:
Manufacturing information: when and where a specific lot was produced, expiration dates;
Distribution information: address locations, dates, and times; and
Environmental information: temperatures during manufacturing or storage, vibration levels.
Benefits of RFID Tags
A dynamic industry is evolving around the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. IoT networks connect sensors, switches, and machines to the internet using RF communication. Cloud-based applications interpret and transmit the data coming from all these sensors.
Palletech works with pallet providers to place a LoRa-based sensor inside the central plank of pallets to enable them to track and collect information on temperature, humidity, location, shock, time, and more. Tracking all this data in real-time improves inventory management, condition monitoring, asset tracking, and security. The benefit of cloud-connected pallets is that no added infrastructure is needed.
Ahrma, a Dutch start-up company, has combined innovative materials with IoT technology to create a pallet that offers optimal supply chain control. “The embedded transponder in each pallet has several radio-protocols: a long-range protocol for factory and warehouse wide coverage and a short-range protocol for smartphone scanning.” According to Erik de Bokx, Ahrma’s managing director, “Ahrma aims to be a front runner in the industry by adapting IoT in logistics.”
Per McKinsey & Company, “As objects become embedded with sensors and gain the ability to communicate, the new information networks promise to create new business models, improve business processes, and reduce costs and risks.” McKinsey reports, “if policy makers and businesses get it right, linking the physical and digital worlds could generate up to $11.1 trillion a year in economic value by 2025.”
U.S. Companies On Board
The smart pallet technology is expected to revolutionize food transportation, and several U.S. manufacturing and distribution companies are already on board. Egg producers Trillium Farms and Centrum Valley Farms have decided to use the smart pallets exclusively when shipping eggs to their customers in order to track location, distance, time, temperature and shock/vibration data. Egg producers benefit from reduced product breakage and greater hygienic standards, according to Doug Mack, Chief Operating Officer at Trillium Farms.
And they’re certainly not alone. According to the book, Ubiquitous and Pervasive Computing, Wal-Mart began its RFID pilot as early as 2004 with eight suppliers that began shipping RFID-enabled pallets. These included Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Johnson & Johnson, Kimberly-Clark, Kraft Foods, Nestle/Purina, Proctor & Gamble and Unilever. Ron McCormick, Wal-Mart’s vice president/divisional merchandising manager of produce and cut flowers, is optimistic that the system will also be applicable to produce.
Are You Connected?
Smart technology will continue to advance in remarkable ways. The pallet industry hasn’t seen an innovation of this scale for more than 50 years. But now, the time has come to stay connected to your pallets.
The automobile industry is about to change. By the end of this decade, Tesla plans to produce 500,000 electric cars per year.
To facilitate production of a high-volume, affordable electric car, Tesla will need a reliable and gargantuan supply of lithium ion batteries — more than the sum of all production in a year from China, Korea, Japan, and all other countries. In order to meet this need, Tesla joined in partnership with Panasonic to build a massive factory to produce cells, modules, and packs for not only Tesla’s electric vehicles but also for the stationary storage market.
The Supercharge Gigafactory
In 2014 ground broke just outside of Sparks, Nevada, for Tesla’s Gigafactory. At a cost of roughly $5 billion, the Gigafactory will be the biggest lithium ion battery factory in the world. In fact, the factory will be bigger than the sum of all lithium ion factories on the planet.
Spanning more than 137 acres (six million square feet), the factory is due to begin cell production in 2017, increasing production to 35 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of cells and 50 GWh of packs per year by end of 2018. (A gigawatt-hour is a unit of energy representing one billion watt hours.) This quantity of packs will be sufficient to achieve Tesla’s annual 500,000 electric-car goal. Looking forward to 2020, the Gigafactory aims to produce enough packs to support 1.5 million cars per year.
How Much Power Is in a Gigawatt?
Per Tesla’s website, “The Gigafactory will produce batteries for significantly less cost using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing processes under one roof.”
Attention to the Environment
In planning the Gigafactory, time and attention was devoted to design aesthetics and the environment. The building was fashioned in a diamond shape to cut back on the amount of earth needed to be removed for construction. In addition, it is positioned true-north, so as to simplify the mapping of equipment layout utilizing GPS. The factory employs strong earthquake-resistant bracing throughout, and it will produce its own energy through a combination of geothermal, wind, and solar resources.
The Future of Manufacturing
As outlined in a recent article by Inc., Tesla is reinventing mass production in three ways:
Through integrated, product-centered factory design
Through a five- to ten-fold increase in production capability
Through net-zero emissions and carbon-neutral manufacturing
Per JB Straubel, Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder of Tesla Motors, “The Gigafactory represents a fundamental change in the way large scale battery production can be realized. Not only does the Gigafactory enable capacity needed for the Model 3 but it sets the path for a dramatic reduction in the cost of energy storage across a broad range of applications.”
“The Gigafactory represents a fundamental change in the way large scale battery production can be realized.” — JB Straubel, Chief Technical Officer and Co-founder of Tesla Motors
With the aim of revitalizing manufacturing while promoting sustainable energy production and consumption, Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk advises, “You need to look at a factory like it’s a product – like it’s a giant machine that builds the machine. It deserves more innovation and more engineering skill than actually the product itself. And that’s what we’ve done.”
Think you’ve seen BIG? Check out these five mega footprint warehouses and factories from across the world…
Mitsubishi Motors North America
Once known as Diamond-Star Motors, a joint venture between Chrysler Corporation and Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, the facility is now solely owned by Mitsubishi and known as Mitsubishi Motors North America (MMNA) Manufacturing Division. Located in Normal, Illinois, the facility covers 2.4 million square feet — the equivalent of 50 football fields — to support the production of the Outlander Sport model, at a capacity of 120,000 vehicles. Last July MMNA announced they would be closing their sole North American production facility to focus on the growing Asian market. Production ended in November 2015, with final closure scheduled for May 2016.
John Deere North American Parts Distribution Center
Parts comprise 15% of revenues for John Deere. The primary parts distribution warehouse for North America is located in Milan, Illinois, and is 2.65 million square feet. It is centrally located to stock slow and obsolete parts. Fast-moving SKUs are duplicated in multiple distribution centers to ensure close proximity to customer demand points. John Deere’s goal is to deliver parts to dealer locations within 48 hours with a 99% fill rate. From the Milan center alone, 450,000 lines per week are shipped, about 80,000 lines per day. For further information on John Deere’s distribution network strategies, read MWPVL International’s white paper here.
Boeing Everett Production Facility
Originally built in 1967 to construct the wide-body 747, Boeing’s Everett Site in Washington has grown to 4.3 million square feet. The building is the largest in the world when measuring usable space by volume, 472 million cubic feet. Just how large are we talking? “The campus is big enough to encompass Disneyland with 12 acres left over for parking.” Since the first 747 aircraft produced in 1968, the facility now produces the Boeing 747, 767, 777, and 787. Tours of the site are offered. In fact, more than 150,000 visitors tour the facility each year “to see how wide-body jets with millions of parts and miles of wire synchronize like a symphony to produce a work of art in flight.”
The Tesla Factory, the principal production facility of Tesla Motors, located in Fremont, California, is 5.3 million square feet. About 1,000 cars are made here per week, mostly to pre-orders for the Model S. “The manufacturing process uses more than 160 specialist robots, including 10 of the largest robots in the world, which are named after X-Men characters.” From raw material to a finished product, assembly takes less than five days per vehicle. This is an impressive setup with most everything they need in-house, including the majority of stamping panels and on-site design engineers. Check out the video on How the Tesla Model S is Made to see amazing robotics, and perhaps a glimpse into our future.
Royal Flora Holland Flower Auction
And the number one spot on our list of Over the Top Mega Warehouses and Factories goes to the world’s largest flower auction warehouse, Royal Flora Holland, covering a whopping 10.6 million square feet. That converts to 243 acres. The warehouse, located in Aalsmeer, Netherlands, has been the heart of the international flower trade since the early 20th century. Flowers from more than ten countries, including Europe, Ecuador, Colombia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, are traded via a Dutch auction. More than 20 million flowers are auctioned here daily; that is to say, more than half of the world’s cut flowers are traded under one roof.