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Key points

  • Specifying a variable-speed drive can reduce energy consumption
  • Thermography and vibration analysis can identify problem areas
  • Precisely aligned components are more reliable and efficient
  • A rigorous lubrication and sealing regime is also very important

In any manufacturing process, optimising operational efficiency is a key driver of business competitiveness. This is especially so in the food production industry, where any downtime can mean that ingredients perish and production can be lost, writes Jeremy Salisbury from Brammer UK.

In any manufacturing process, optimising operational efficiency is a key driver of business competitiveness. This is especially so in the food production industry, where any downtime can mean that ingredients perish and production can be lost.

The availability, performance and output of an individual machine or production line are key factors affecting operational efficiency, but these variables can be heavily impacted by breakdown or process issues.

The key to maximising operational efficiency, therefore, is to ensure that production plant performance is optimised. A key enabler to the achievement of this goal is the adoption of an appropriate maintenance and asset-management strategy that will extend product life and reduce plant downtime.

In particular, the optimal selection and maintenance of drive systems for process equipment such as pumps and valves impacts positively on both operational efficiency and reduced energy consumption – both of which are key to maintaining competitiveness.

The importance of getting this decision right is brought home clearly by figures showing that in the UK, electric motors and drives account for more than two thirds of power consumption in industry. Yet many motors are unnecessarily oversized for the machines they drive.

The annual energy consumption cost of running a motor can be up to 10 times its purchase cost. A 10kW motor operating at 87 per cent efficiency could cost £1,500 more over its lifetime than one that is just five per cent more efficient.

Meanwhile, in any application where the pump is not required to work constantly at full speed, energy efficiency can be further increased through the specification of a variable-speed drive (VSD), which can reduce energy consumption by up to 50 per cent. The energy saving and process improvement benefits of variable speed drives (VSDs) are well proven across a range of manufacturing applications and they can also help to increase the life of mechanical drivetrain components, which benefit from a smoother start-up.

The annual energy consumption cost of running a motor can be up to 10 times its initial cost

As well as driving pumps, in the food industry VSDs are commonly used in applications such as on extraction fans to control oven temperatures.

One typical pump application in the sector saw a pump being driven by a 21kW motor operating at 90 per cent demand and costing £12,532 per year to run. The introduction of a VSD reduced the annual energy consumption by more than £3,000.

Once the correct products have been selected and commissioned, an appropriate condition-monitoring programme and a proactive maintenance schedule are required to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency. Techniques such as thermography and vibration analysis will identify any problem areas and allow early remedial action to be taken to minimise energy usage and prevent breakdown.

Precision alignment of components, for example, is proven to create energy savings of up to five per cent, while properly aligned machinery is also more reliable. There is a variety of laser alignment tools available for this task.

The importance of a rigorous lubrication and sealing regime cannot be overestimated and the actual product specified is often as important as when, and how well, it is applied. All lubricants have a specified effective temperature range outside which they cannot be guaranteed to perform to the required standard. Using the wrong product will almost certainly impact negatively on machine performance, as will incorrect application or the use of insufficient quantities of lubricant, which will increase friction and rolling resistance, reducing energy efficiency with more efficient and equally effective 4kW motors. Meanwhile, the standard V belts were replaced with Gates Polychain synchronous drive belts and the motors improved their energy efficiency with the installation of a variable-speed drive to each stove. This increased process speed control and improved the effectiveness of the production process.

Another project at the Sheffield factory has seen Brammer deliver significant carbon-emission reductions and a further £16,000 energy cost saving – another example of how reviewing processes and optimising product specification can enhance both operations and energy efficiency.

Whether a company’s focus is on short-term cost savings or on positioning the company for the long term, investment in more energy-efficient equipment and correct management of those assets will help to reduce costs, increase production uptime and productivity and enhance business competitiveness.

Cadbury and Trebor Bassett optimise operational efficiency during production

Key points

  • Specifying a variable-speed drive can reduce energy consumption
  • Thermography and vibration analysis can identify problem areas
  • Precisely aligned components are more reliable and efficient
  • A rigorous lubrication and sealing regime is also very important

In any manufacturing process, optimising operational efficiency is a key driver of business competitiveness. This is especially so in the food production industry, where any downtime can mean that ingredients perish and production can be lost, writes Jeremy Salisbury from Brammer UK.

In any manufacturing process, optimising operational efficiency is a key driver of business competitiveness. This is especially so in the food production industry, where any downtime can mean that ingredients perish and production can be lost.

The availability, performance and output of an individual machine or production line are key factors affecting operational efficiency, but these variables can be heavily impacted by breakdown or process issues.

The key to maximising operational efficiency, therefore, is to ensure that production plant performance is optimised. A key enabler to the achievement of this goal is the adoption of an appropriate maintenance and asset-management strategy that will extend product life and reduce plant downtime.

In particular, the optimal selection and maintenance of drive systems for process equipment such as pumps and valves impacts positively on both operational efficiency and reduced energy consumption – both of which are key to maintaining competitiveness.

The importance of getting this decision right is brought home clearly by figures showing that in the UK, electric motors and drives account for more than two thirds of power consumption in industry. Yet many motors are unnecessarily oversized for the machines they drive.

The annual energy consumption cost of running a motor can be up to 10 times its purchase cost. A 10kW motor operating at 87 per cent efficiency could cost £1,500 more over its lifetime than one that is just five per cent more efficient.

Meanwhile, in any application where the pump is not required to work constantly at full speed, energy efficiency can be further increased through the specification of a variable-speed drive (VSD), which can reduce energy consumption by up to 50 per cent. The energy saving and process improvement benefits of variable speed drives (VSDs) are well proven across a range of manufacturing applications and they can also help to increase the life of mechanical drivetrain components, which benefit from a smoother start-up.

The annual energy consumption cost of running a motor can be up to 10 times its initial cost

As well as driving pumps, in the food industry VSDs are commonly used in applications such as on extraction fans to control oven temperatures.

One typical pump application in the sector saw a pump being driven by a 21kW motor operating at 90 per cent demand and costing £12,532 per year to run. The introduction of a VSD reduced the annual energy consumption by more than £3,000.

Once the correct products have been selected and commissioned, an appropriate condition-monitoring programme and a proactive maintenance schedule are required to ensure they are operating at maximum efficiency. Techniques such as thermography and vibration analysis will identify any problem areas and allow early remedial action to be taken to minimise energy usage and prevent breakdown.

Precision alignment of components, for example, is proven to create energy savings of up to five per cent, while properly aligned machinery is also more reliable. There is a variety of laser alignment tools available for this task.

The importance of a rigorous lubrication and sealing regime cannot be overestimated and the actual product specified is often as important as when, and how well, it is applied. All lubricants have a specified effective temperature range outside which they cannot be guaranteed to perform to the required standard. Using the wrong product will almost certainly impact negatively on machine performance, as will incorrect application or the use of insufficient quantities of lubricant, which will increase friction and rolling resistance, reducing energy efficiency with more efficient and equally effective 4kW motors. Meanwhile, the standard V belts were replaced with Gates Polychain synchronous drive belts and the motors improved their energy efficiency with the installation of a variable-speed drive to each stove. This increased process speed control and improved the effectiveness of the production process.

Another project at the Sheffield factory has seen Brammer deliver significant carbon-emission reductions and a further £16,000 energy cost saving – another example of how reviewing processes and optimising product specification can enhance both operations and energy efficiency.

Whether a company’s focus is on short-term cost savings or on positioning the company for the long term, investment in more energy-efficient equipment and correct management of those assets will help to reduce costs, increase production uptime and productivity and enhance business competitiveness.

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