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Tips for finding energy savings

Consultant Robin Kent offers some key tips for finding energy savings in your molding operations. For a more extensive discussion of the topic by Kent, please see our article, "Getting to know your real energy use and cost."

Consultant Robin Kent offers some key tips for finding energy savings in your molding operations. For a more extensive discussion of the topic by Kent, please see our article, "Getting to know your real energy use and cost."

1. Without some sort of energy management system, you simply aren’t going to make the savings because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. The system needs to cover:
• energy management personnel
• a monitoring and targeting system (internal benchmarking)
• staff training
• energy audits
• reporting
Unless energy is on the management agenda, nothing will happen. If you don’t have systems, forget about the rest of the list.

2. Develop a site energy map to find out where you are spending money.

3. Read the bill and use the data to find out when you are spending money.

4. Benchmark the site and machines externally.

5. Have motor management policies and specifications in place. Energy-efficient motors save money and rewinding costs money. Getting control of motors is a first step.

6. Turn off all motors, preferably automatically, when they are not contributing.

7. Use inverters (variable-frequency drives, or VFDs) to slow down pump and fan motors to save loads of money.

8. Minimize the demand of compressed air and then optimize the supply. Stop all those air leaks and reduce usage before you start to improve generation and distribution with new technology.

9. Minimize the demand of cooling water and then optimize the supply. Reduce parasitic heat with insulation and get the temperatures up before you start to improve generation and distribution with VFDs.

10. Don’t use insurance drying. Control the drying process.

11. Buy the right kit. Any new equipment (especially all-electric) is almost certainly more energy efficient than older-generation equipment.

12. Use the right machine and get the settings right. There is no contradiction between energy efficiency and productivity.

13. Implement energy-efficient startup, standby, and shutdown procedures.

14. Insulate hot surfaces such as barrels to prevent heat losses.

15. Review the lighting system and use controls and new technology to improve light quality and reduce costs.

Robin Kent is an international molding industry consultant, speaker, and author, who, among his many publications, has written a book titled Energy in Plastics Processing—Strategies, Targets, Techniques, and Tools. You also can find him in person, conducting an afternoon workshop called “Energy Management in Plastics Processing” during the Molding 2010 conference in San Antonio, TX, April 12-14 (www.executive-conference.com).

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