Make old plant equipment newly efficient


Can you run an old factory with improved energy efficiency? Adjusting machines with a touch of digital layering can bring aging equipment up to 21st energy efficiency standards of the century.

Plant assets require a significant capital investment. Most companies want to measure the usefulness of their equipment over decades, even if that means using old world machinery to make new world products. The attempt to improve the efficiency of the equipment is even more difficult. While there may be a clear ROI argument for new equipment, many plant managers are looking to save money by making their existing equipment run more efficiently.

We tend to think of older equipment as energy inefficient, just like older cars have low gas mileage. This analogy may not apply to plant equipment. “It’s a common misconception that only new equipment can be energy efficient. Legacy equipment and older equipment no longer supplied by the original equipment manufacturer can be retrofitted to reduce energy use in the supply chain, ”said Jonathan Wilkins, supplier of marketing director of obsolete industrial parts EU Automation. Design News.

Bring connectivity to older equipment

Wilkins notes that connectivity can reduce the power consumption of older equipment. “The connected technology made possible by the Industrial Internet of Things has dramatically improved visibility in manufacturing,” said Wilkins. “Manufacturers now have access to real-time data to see how the assembly line is working. “

Data from machine connectivity can be used to tune the system towards efficiency. “Manufacturers can use this real-time data to find areas where equipment is not operating at maximum capacity or is consuming more power than necessary,” Wilkins said. “Manufacturers then have to decide how to optimize this equipment to improve productivity and reduce energy consumption.

In addition to fine-tuning the equipment to improve efficiency, the plant’s machines can be upgraded with advanced motion technology. “Some equipment can be added to the supply chain after the inefficient machine has been located,” Wilkins said. “Variable speed drives, for example, can be added to equipment that uses motors, controlling its speed so that it only uses the energy needed to perform an action. “

Benefits of increased efficiency in uptime

In addition to improving energy consumption, improving plant equipment can also prevent costly interruptions in production. “If the equipment uses more power than it needs, it can easily overheat and fail. This leads to unplanned and costly downtime, ”Wilkins said. “Installing equipment that optimizes energy efficiency also means that the machine will require less energy to perform its actions, thus increasing its life. “

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Machine connectivity can also provide the data needed to move to preventive maintenance, which will extend uptime and reduce unplanned downtime. “Using real-time data can help improve productivity by encouraging proactive maintenance. This will ensure that assembly line problems can be avoided, reducing the risk of overheating due to excessive power consumption, ”said Wilkins. “The equipment and assembly line themselves will have no more difficulties and will depend on more energy to produce goods at the required rate. “

Maintain the operation of obsolete equipment

Reducing energy consumption helps reduce production costs and align plant operations with low energy standards. “Energy efficiency helps manufacturers reduce the carbon footprint of the facility while reducing the cost of energy. It lowers the cost of producing goods, ”Wilkins said. “Manufacturers can then spend money elsewhere to improve productivity. As machines become more advanced, they will optimize productivity, leading to better accuracy and faster job completion. “

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Rob Spiegel has covered automation and control for 17 years, including 15 years for Design news. Other topics he has covered include supply chain technology, alternative energy and cybersecurity. For 10 years he was the owner and editor of the food magazine Chili pepper.

Image courtesy of EU Automation.


Leon E. Hill

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