Cracking down on energy consumption

Posted on 6 Nov 2014 by Callum Bentley

AkzoNobel Powder Coatings enjoys the easy reporting capabilities of Rockwell Automation’s FactoryTalk® VantagePoint® coupled with advanced data collection and collation hardware.

AkzoNobel Powder Coatings produces high-quality powder coatings – a solvent-free alternative to paint, which offer many industries a tough, hardwearing and environmentally sound coating alternative. These powder coatings can be used on a large number of diverse products in both consumer and industrial settings, including white goods, office furniture, alloy wheels and aluminium windows.

The company is continuously developing and innovating, with long-, medium- and short-term R&D support. As well as product innovation for its customers, the company is always striving to improve its own on-site capabilities and environmental credentials.

The challenge

According to Steve Wilburn, WWPG process engineer at AkzoNobel: “50% of the electricity used at Felling is consumed by common site services; things like compressed air, chilled water and extraction. When all of these systems are in operation, we can often see peak load conditions throughout most of the day. The biggest energy consumers are medium-sized motors, which run for long periods of time, some occasionally at full capacity. The ones used by the shared services were often running all the time, even when the particular service was not required.”

“The site had two 1 MW transformers, which were running at 100% capacity and it was these transformers that triggered the initial investigation into the site’s energy use,” Wilburn explains.

EMEA1801_4“We first undertook a fledgling energy monitoring programme at Felling in 2008, where we installed FactoryTalk® EnergyMetrix™ from Rockwell Automation in one half of the factory. The problem was that we didn’t really analyse the data. About the same time we also went from ‘made to stock’ to ‘made to order’ and started using less power so the urgency was not there anymore.

“We then did some work with FactoryTalk® VantagePoint®, a data visualisation solution and a team from Rockwell Automation lead by Gerard O’Connell, the PEMS lead for Rockwell Automation in the EMEA region, and the true appreciation of our site’s power consumption and wastage changed almost overnight.”

Through this enhanced ability to visualise the consumption, Wilburn and his team commenced a new larger scale project, with help from the engineering team at Rockwell Automation, which was intended to provide a real-time appraisal of what was being consumed by each of the primary assets in order for changes to be made that would ultimately result in less energy consumption.

The solution

The solution designed and deployed by AkzoNobel and the Rockwell Automation PEMS team comprised both hardware and software assets that would ultimately feed into an easy-to-decipher graphical front end supplied by VantagePoint®.

A centralised EnergyMetrix suite is used to collect information gathered from either PowerMonitor™ 1000 units or Allen-Bradley CompactLogix™ programmable automation controllers (depending on equipment size/location). These units combine to give AkzoNobel the ability to measure and analyse water, air, gas, electricity and steam usage alongside plant operations in order to paint a clearer picture of energy usage. Energy cost savings are then derived from: analysing electrical peak demand profiles and determining if there are peaks that can be reduced; analysing alternative rate schedules; analysing ‘dead load’ and determining if additional equipment can be turned off; and verifying bills from utility suppliers and establishing targets for utility consumption.

“The majority of our Felling site’s equipment is now monitored by Rockwell Automation systems,” Wilburn explains. “We are also using Ethernet; even the smaller applications, such as the PowerMonitor 1000, offer Ethernet capability. They are great products. Indeed, we are now running on Ethernet not only in the UK, but also in our German and French factories.”

By using Ethernet as the communication backbone, AkzoNobel has the option to expand the application and data flow even further into the Connected Enterprise. This will allow it to exploit a broad range of additional value-added functions, including the collection of real-time performance data, historical data for performance assessments. This will also allow for maintenance schedules and connectivity beyond the shop floor into enterprise systems that can help manage the equipment even more precisely in line with other assets on site.

The use of standard Ethernet within EtherNet/IP™ means that there is very little that needs to be done for these connections to be established; and full security solutions are also available for user control and to help prevent unwarranted access.