Is it possible to determine key figures for energy consumption in metal processing and in this way not only determine potential energy savings, but also increase the productivity of the entire process at the same time?
For a long time, the energy consumption in the production of metal and machine parts only accounted for a very small proportion of the costs compared to material, working time and investment depreciation. However, in the “Eco2Cut” project, which the ecoplus Mechatronics Cluster initiated in 2010 as part of the CORNET funding scheme, a remarkable connection was found: it turned out that in many cases only a small proportion of the energy consumed goes into the machining of the workpiece itself. Some is consumed by the base load and the aggregate changeover. However, upon closer analysis, the experts also discovered a lot that harbored potential for optimization: ancillary units run non-stop, a tool is not moving optimally, a cutting tool is worn out or an unsuitable combination of workpiece and tool material was selected.
The follow-up project “Eco2Production” was used to develop this connection into a standardized method. At the Institute for Production Engineering and Photonic Technologies at the Vienna University of Technology, a metrological concept was developed that can be used for the conditions in an entire production facility as well as for monitoring individual machine components.
With the identification of unexpected savings potential, the “Eco2Cut” project took a different direction than initially planned. Measuring the energy used provided an easily determinable variable that can also help identify where process productivity can be improved. Just how effective this can be was shown in the case of one of the participating industrial companies. They managed to optimize the production time of their already well-established production processes to the point that the investment in a new production plant became unnecessary.
Machine manufacturers and their customers were able to benefit from the systematization of the relationships obtained in the “Eco2Production” project. For example, one supplier was able to improve the coordination of axis and spindle drives, increase the service life of a spindle and adapt the dimensioning of the power electronics in the drive train to the actual requirements.
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