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General Motors has augmented its GE Intelligent Platforms Proficy software solution to control the lights and other big energy consuming equipment in its assembly plants.

This is saving the automobile manufacturer energy costs and reducing its carbon footprint.

In a car factory with a few million square feet of floor space, turning lights off when part of the plant is not in use saves a lot of energy and money.

General Motors realised that if it tied the lights to the schedule of the conveyor (outside of the security lighting), it could reduce energy consumption in the plant.

GE Intelligent Platforms’ Proficy Cimplicity controls the conveyor so General Motors managers approved an application based on Cimplicity that schedules the lights to coincide with conveyor operation.

This led to other discoveries of potential energy savings.

Mike Durak, global information technology manager at General Motors, said: ‘Everything in a vehicle assembly plant is tied to the conveyor.

‘A hidden benefit was that once we scheduled the conveyor we had a good view into what the plant was doing, so we were able to schedule the on and off of big energy consumers in the plant, such as air supply houses on the roof, ovens in the paint shop, lighting, water, and compressed air generators,’ he added.

The savings come from being able to control millions of square feet of plant floor space with Proficy Cimplicity software, a client/server-based HMI/Scada solution that allows operators and management team to make more informed decisions with real-time visibility technology.

In General Motors’ case, the team can manage certain parts of the factory or the whole plant from any location.

Employees are not affected by the automatic shut-off lighting and equipment.

From the lighting perspective, lights are turned on two or three minutes before employees arrive at their workstation.

The general building lighting goes on a few minutes earlier.

Durak said: ‘We’ve also scheduled different turn on/shut-offs on weekends.

‘For instance, ovens in the paint shop need two hours to warm up so we need to take that into account when we turn them off.

‘Therefore, we have different times for end of shift, weekends, extended long production, lunch, and end of day, to name a few,’ he added.

The paint shop in automotive assembly is a significant energy consumer because in order to make sure that the car’s paint does not contain dust or other contaminates in the final product it is important to have the optimum air quality and temperature.

Proficy Cimplicity is used by General Motors to monitor the paint shop environmental conditions, alerting the paint-shop staff when process circumstances begin to trend out of acceptable ranges.

With less than six-month payback and low cost to implement, the solution is now rolling out to 20 plants in the General Motors portfolio.

GE Intelligent Platforms

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