Energy efficiency needs to pay off

Keeping production energy requirements as low as possible is becoming an important competitive factor. The Institute of Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools, PTW for short, at the University of Darmstadt, will be represented with its own stand at the upcoming AMB.

Over 90,000 trade visitors and approximately 1,300 exhibitors are expected to attend AMB 2014 from 16 to 20 September 2014 and energy efficiency will be one of the important topic.
Over 90,000 trade visitors and approximately 1,300 exhibitors are expected to attend AMB 2014 from 16 to 20 September 2014 and energy efficiency will be one of the important topic. (Picture, the EvoDeco product range by Tornos includes intelligent technologies to save energy and to use it minimising waste.)

The most important issues facing production of tomorrow will be organised according to four clusters – one of which will focus on energy efficiency. Here, energy-optimised machine components and production machinery will be presented, as well as the research and demonstration project “eta-Fabrik”. In addition to the energy-related improvement of individual production facilities, their energetic networking, the machine periphery, utilities management and the factory building will also be considered. Prof. Dr.-Ing. Eberhard Abele, Executive Director of the PTW Institute, took a few moments to talk with us:

In your experience, what energy measures have the highest cost/benefit effect for manufacturers and customers?
Over the past few years, there have been a number of good solutions developed and implemented for energy-efficient machine tools. The measures are very diverse, ranging from constructive solutions such as the targeted optimisation of individual machine components, to new drive concepts, regenerative motors or the optimisation of processing. We must also bear in mind that a reduction of the cycle times is one of the most effective levers, as this often sees energy consumption linearly reduced. These measures that have been mentioned often involve additional costs for the customer. The key question is: are additional costs for energy-efficiency solutions economically feasible?

Efficiency involves more than just an economical machine tool. How can the production industry achieve a high degree of efficiency across the entire process?
The German industry is in direct international competition with a number of successfully producing countries such as China or South Korea. The competitive pressure on the international scene has increased dramatically the past few years. In my opinion, the challenge for the manufacturing industry will be adapting to new market conditions as flexibly and efficiently as possible. We need to learn to be faster than the competition in order to maintain our technological lead. This also calls for the communication of existing knowledge about known methods, such as lean system technology for example, in technical studies as early as possible. This is why, at PTW, we are working hard on the concept of learning factories – for students and employees of industrial concerns. Based on the success that we have had with this concept, there are currently further learning factories emerging in the area of Logistics and Energy Efficiency.
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