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The installation of 33 ABB low-voltage AC drives is enabling an animal feed manufacturer to save more than 30 per cent of the power consumed on the applicable motors on its electricity bill.

ABN produces 1.7 million tonnes of feed per annum from its 10 mills located throughout the UK.

The company wanted to look at the energy efficiency of some of its key processes and asked ABB Drives Alliance partner Inverter Drive Systems (IDS) to investigate.

Alex Masih, supply chain director at ABN, said: ‘We particularly wanted to look at cooler fans, grinders, grinder extractor fans and air compressors.

‘IDS told us it could achieve significant energy savings,’ Masih added.

The existing machines had either no control or a simple damper control on the fan applications.

IDS conducted an energy survey at seven of ABN’s UK mills involving a temporary installation of ABB low-voltage AC drives to determine the potential savings.

This resulted in a comprehensive spreadsheet with costs, savings and payback times.

Power monitoring was carried out before and after the drive installation to verify the predicted savings.

The survey revealed a potential to save around 25 per cent of the power on the recommended applications.

Following the survey, 33 ABB industrial drives were installed at the mills, with ratings ranging from 7.5kW to 200kW.

Actual power savings are in the region of 30 per cent, while work on variable speed control of cooler fans at the company’s Northallerton site has shown potential for a further 23 per cent saving.

This gives a payback period of two years.

In addition to the power savings, the drives have produced a number of other benefits for ABN.

Masih said: ‘IDS also helped us achieve better product size control on the grinders.

‘The beaters in the grinding machines produce different sized stock depending on the speed, so using variable speed drives also allows us to vary the size of the feed to suit customers’ needs.

‘Using the ABB solution allowed us to retrofit the drives onto our existing grinders rather than buy new variable speed grinders,’ Masih added.

Because of the dusty atmosphere produced by the mills, the drives were supplied protected to IP54, with those in particularly dusty areas enclosed in panels offering further protection.

Soft starters also allow gradual start-up of the grinders.

This saved energy by allowing the grinders to be turned off when not needed and turned on again without risking an overload.

It also brought a quieter working environment to the production areas.

The drives’ own soft-start program was also used to reduce any start-up stresses.

ABB Automation Tech – Drives and Motors

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