|Everything is more efficient
Plastic processing technology is rapidly improving in energy efficiency and old machines are inevitably less energy efficient than new machines. Processors using old machinery are not saving money, they are paying more to run their process than their competitors and they may well be putting themselves at a permanent cost disadvantage.
Compared to the machines available in 1996, modern machines are at least 20% more energy efficient and in the case of injection moulding machines where all-electric machines are the new technology the new machines are up to 60% more efficient than the standard 1996 hydraulic machine.
There is no conflict!
Most processing methods offer significant opportunities for energy management and energy efficiency improvements and it is important for processors to understand that there is no conflict between energy efficiency and productivity - both can be achieved. In fact, increasing the production rate of most plastics machinery decreases the kWh/kg because the base load of the machine is amortised into a greater process load.
Specifying new machines
When considering purchasing new machines, sites need to consider the ‘whole life cost’ of the machine rather than the simple ‘initial cost’.
The cost of operating a machine over a 10-year life will always be greater than the initial purchase cost. In addition, this cost will increase as energy prices increase - a cheap ‘initial cost’ machine can easily be the most expensive machine over a 10-year life. Specifiers should look particularly for large motors that are not used to their design specification on small machines.
Machine energy monitoring can be rapid and low cost and allows processors to see inside the machine cycle and to adjust the settings to get the most energy efficient settings for the job. The chart at right shows the energy consumption of an injection moulding machine. At the left hand side of the chart the machine is idling with no production and drawing 80% of the full load power.
Idling machines in any process are not free - they are costing large amounts of money (up to 90% of the full running costs) but are often ignored by site management. Machine monitoring is also a sensitive indicator of the general condition of a machine. As a general rule, when producing the same product under the same conditions, increasing energy use indicates a need for maintenance.
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