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Energy efficiency from an all-round perspective

Posted: 2016-07-26 11:11

At CHINAPLAS 2015, VDMA German Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association, in cooperation with show organizer, Adsale Exhibition Services Ltd, hosted a panel discussion emphasizing the importance of energy efficiency.

In his opening speech, Stanley Chu, Chairman of Adsale, noted the vital support of VDMA and the presence of its member firms' at CHINAPLAS.

"Germany is a trailblazer in sophisticated technologies. They supply us with the high-end technologies that we in China need," he said.

The host of the panel discussion, Thorsten Kühmann, who is Managing Director of the VDMA Plastics and Rubber Machinery Association, emphasized the need to save energy as well as other resources because of their limited supply.

"At the same time, we see sustainable technologies as a model for economic success both for machinery manufacturers and for their customers, the plastics converters. Energy efficiency is an important driving force of economic success," said Mr Kühmann.

Before all the talks of energy saving technologies, there has to be a standard measuring the energy consumption of the machines. The EUROMAP standards 60.1 and 60.2 are developed in Europe accordingly for the injection molding category.

"EUROMAP 60.1 provides an initial overview of machinery-related energy consumption; 60.2 also enables complex, customer-specific injection molding applications to be compared in relation to the product," explained Dr Karlheinz Bourdon, Vice President Technologies at KraussMaffei Technologies GmbH.

The energy consumption levels can be compared openly, he said, putting pressure on the machinery manufacturers to develop technologies that are increasingly more efficient.

Mr Kühmann added that there are also energy measurement standards for extrusion blow molding, and others, such as thermoforming, are under development.

In addition to reducing energy consumption, it is also important to minimize scraps during production, which means better use of resources.

In this end KraussMaffei introduced the adaptive process control (APC) system that can compensate for fluctuations in the manufacturing process during injection molding.

The APC function adjusts the changeover point and the holding pressure profile in each cycle to the current melt viscosity and current flow resistance in the mold. This makes it possible to compensate for deviations in the same shot, leading to significantly lower fluctuations in article weights.

"For pallet manufacturing, assuming a throughput of 440kg/h and a price of €1.15 /kg for new raw material, the annual savings potential for the machinery operator is more than €200,000," said Dr Bourdon.

These savings, as he pointed out, are achieved not only in energy consumption but also in terms of materials and production time.

The energy efficiency concept is more than a machine's energy consumption, according to Helmut Heinson, Managing Director of Arburg.

"We have to look at productivity gains as a whole. Apart from greater throughput and reliable quality, this also includes adding value with ever more complex plastic products. And all that while using as little energy as possible," he said.

From a broad range of view, Arburg contributes to the overall production efficiency of plastics industry by adopting a vast amount of renewable energy at its headquarters in Lossburg, Germany, a part of the German black forest.

That is done on top of all the processing and technology optimizations for the machines. "We are doing it for two reasons - one is to saving costs and the other is, of course, sustainability," Mr Heinson explained.

The Chinese market for plastics and rubber machinery is changing. Sales of high quality plant and machinery are rising.

Energy efficiency has always been an important quality factor in the premium segment, but that demand for machinery in the medium and low price segments is not slackening either, observed Joanne Shen, Managing Director of Coperion (Nanjing) Machinery Co. Ltd.

"Some of our customers even bring with them a measuring meter to check the energy consumption of our machines!" she revealed.

Asked whether energy efficiency plays an important part in all three segments, she explained, "Energy efficiency has always been an important criterion at the high end, but our customers want to secure competitive advantages for themselves with energy-efficient manufacturing in the mid and low price segments as well."