voestalpine Europlatinen GmbH is focusing on energy efficient solutions, helping to save costs and protect the environment.
There’s already a tradition of using energy efficiently at voestalpine Europlatinen GmbH (production of blanks). Although not a major energy consumer, voestalpine Europlatinen has been taking steps to use energy efficiently for many years now. Rising power costs have a direct impact on manufacturing costs, and heavy energy consumption also unavoidably puts stress on the environment. Therefore measures have been in place for several years to make the process of producing blanks more energy efficient. These energy efficiency measures are grouped into two phases:
- Increasing efficiency through optimization
- Increasing efficiency through investments in more energy efficient machinery.
Increasing efficiency through optimization
The starting point for the optimization measures was the question: “How much power is consumed when nothing is being produced?” The answer was significant. For stand-by power consumption alone, i.e., when nothing is being produced, could amount to as much as 30% of the power used during full production. This includes aspects such as cooling at weekends, when no one is present in the production facilities. A more detailed analysis also identified the biggest power consumers. Based on these results, it was relatively easy to introduce measures to reduce power consumption.
- Laser: Controlled shutdown for longer, non-producing periods saves energy and raises general awareness of energy consumption in the company. In addition, production and shift planning was optimized, concentrating blocks of production standstill and downtime as much as possible. Many measures were also introduced to reduce non-productive times in the welding cycle, to improve OEEs (original equipment efficiency), and to reduce maintenance time.
- Web-based control: To react more flexibly to various production situations, remote controls were added to the lighting, ventilation and air conditioning controls. They enable manual switching to be carried out via the internet.
These optimization measures have resulted in savings of 900,000 kWh per year, or 320 tons of CO₂.
Increasing efficiency through investment
In addition to the optimization measures, investments were made in more modern and energy efficient laser machines, as laser technology has developed in leaps and bounds over the past years. New lasers are cheaper and more energy efficient. The socket output efficiency of older, lamp-pumped YAG lasers is only 5–6%, CO₂ lasers increase this to around 10–12%. In comparison: new high performance lasers already have an output efficiency of more than 35%.
Therefore, with the space of a year, voestalpine Europlatinen has exchanged four laser machines for new, more energy efficient models. This has saved a total of 1.6 GWh power, or a further 580 tons of CO₂.