ROI through energy-efficient engineering: it starts with the components
Why component selection is crucial both technically as well as economically
Three criteria are of crucial importance when it comes to choosing a component: size, energy efficiency, and costs. Customers attach very different levels of importance to these depending on their industry. Yet all industries can benefit from efficient components if power supplies, transformers, filters, and reactors are able to do more.
Designing a plant based purely on cost is tempting but generally involves drawbacks in terms of quality. If a power supply is installed with a low efficiency factor that produces a lot of waste heat for instance, then a ventilator also needs to be installed in front of this or the installation area such as the control cabinet needs to be air-conditioned. Although this means that no component is going to overheat, the plant will only feature low levels of energy efficiency. Nevertheless, many plant constructors still often select a more inefficient solution provided that the reliability factor adds up and the component features a certain lifetime quality which exceeds the plant’s warranty period. This often has considerable consequences in terms of technical implementation and the key economic figures.
Design size is always in demand, and sustainability is not yet widespread within the industry.
Efficient products are generally more compact – and more sustainable
Yet energy efficiency and reliability go hand in hand: Efficient components generally feature a longer lifetime because they produce less heat. High-efficiency products are also often more compact as they require less available space for heat emission. The product can feature a more compact design if cooling surface space is saved. Since many customers are looking for compact products, e.g. in order to reduce the size of control cabinets, BLOCK is working on optimizing the efficiency factor even further, particularly in the area of power supplies.
Users are mindful of energy efficiency
However, energy efficiency is a major factor in some industries. In renewable energies, for instance, where the plants are used for energy production, energy efficiency is an important feature used to compare plants from different manufacturers.
Energy suppliers in turn often have a major influence on the plant design. They build the plants themselves in many cases, and also offer services such as lighting for companies and districts. Energy efficiency is highly important here since their plants are operating around the clock. Energy providers therefore want energy-efficient engineering, as this provides a direct and measurable return on investment.
The efficiency factor is a clear sales argument with solar plants, and lighting systems have long been examined in terms of their efficiency factor.
Plants for other areas primarily relate to manufacturing for a particular product in the shortest possible time and with the required quality. The production process is crucial in terms of the ROI, and energy efficiency is only a secondary consideration here.
Efficient components are ideal for mobile applications
Efficient products score points in mobile applications also, such as in railway technology. This is because movable components should be as compact as possible, while still consuming the minimum amount of fuel required for movement. The water-cooled or forced air-cooled transformers used here are particularly compact and reduce the design size through active cooling by up to 50 percent. This enables a significant reduction in the application’s overall construction volume. The transformers can easily be integrated into existing cooling systems. Other coolants can also be used aside from cooling with water.
The same applies to agricultural machinery. Modern combine harvesters, for instance, are controlled electronically and have to maintain network quality in order to observe internal and external EMC interference levels. Despite their size, the machines do not provide unlimited space, with manufacturers therefore preferring to use compact reactors and filters.
Three BLOCK options – the right solution for any usage case
BLOCK offers three options in the area of transformers: Fluid, Core and Alu Technology
Transformers with CORE TECHNOLOGY are produced with premium quality materials, intelligent cores and optimum winding assemblies. With our CORE TECHNOLOGY, we combine materials and technology to create a single transformer with a very high efficiency factor. The transformer is particularly efficient with up to 50 percent fewer overall losses as a result of optimum use of materials and the core design.
Customized solutions – efficient and with a high ROI
Standard products cover a large section of applications. Yet customer-specific solutions are also required time and time again. Our engineers at the BLOCK Development Center work closely with customers to develop individual solutions and also carry out EMC tests to accompany development at the BLOCKLAB. Environmental simulations can also be completed here at any time, and the mobile test lab enables Power Quality tests at the customer's site. This results in individually designed products with perfectly coordinated characteristics for individual applications. The planning and development of customized solutions ensures increased efficiency and a higher ROI.
Industry 4.0: Added value through connected and intelligent products
There are also other ways to increase efficiency. While programmed controls to automate production have long been used in industrial production, Industry 4.0 goes one step further: Intelligent additional functions can increase the general efficiency of a plant or machine today. These are also required in order to connect machines, equipment, sensors, and people in Industry 4.0. Many of BLOCK’s circuit breakers therefore have an interface today for transmitting currents and voltages, as well as for reading or even actively influencing the status of individual output circuits.
Efficiency starts with good engineering – BLOCK comes out on top here with its high level of expertise.
The circuit breaker is therefore a nodal point to which the sensor and communication technologies can best be applied, allowing the customer to monitor their plant’s power supply. This also allows greater levels of efficiency to be achieved. Transformers can be used e.g. for predictive maintenance through being fitted with corresponding sensors, which then show whether everything is working perfectly or whether a check is needed by an engineer before the plant needs to be shut down completely.
Any upcoming service works can be factored into the production process once engineers receive a corresponding message from the system. They can then complete a service or replace parts during plant break periods before these fail. The costs saved through predictive maintenance are considerable, as there is no need for any additional stoppage of the conveyor belt. In this way, intelligent products help to prevent expensive outages and provide support with the planning and management of a reliable plant system.
Summary: Whether energy-efficient standard components, customer-specific optimized developments or smart products for Industry 4.0: efficient engineering helps with energy-efficient operation of plants and supports predictive maintenance. This results in technical optimization and a measurable return on investment.