Air System Cuts Costs, Maintenance
EP Editorial Staff | January 12, 2016
German plastics manufacturer Scholz uses a compressed-air system/service to cut maintenance and energy costs while improving air delivery.
The German town of Kronach is home to a plastics manufacturer with a passion for precision. Horst Scholz GmbH & Co. KG manufactures a wide range of customized components destined primarily for lifestyle products and the automotive and medical-technology industries. The medical sector in particular insists on stringent requirements to ensure high product quality and it’s no different when it comes to the quality standards for the compressed air the company relies on for control and process air.
- When it came time to modernize their existing compressed-air system, the company’s management discussed three key concerns:
- frequent fluctuations in demand that go hand in hand with supplying the automotive industry
- limited space within their plant facility for a new compressed-air system
- desire to take advantage of the latest technology and all the benefits Industry 4.0 has to offer.
These three key concerns led Scholz to Kaeser Compressors, Coburg, Germany/Fredricksburg, VA (kaeser.com), a compressed-air systems provider well known for providing unique solutions.
Kaeser’s answer was a Sigma Air Utility (SAU). The SAU is a contracting model in which the compressed-air system remains the property of the air-system provider while the customer simply uses the compressed air as needed, just like power from an electrical socket, and always at the same fixed rate. From an accounting perspective, this approach addressed Scholz’s fluctuating-demand concern since the company would only be billed for the air needed to handle their varying production demands.
Space was Scholz’s second concern and being able to provide a suitable room or area for Kaeser to install the compressed-air system was problematic since space was at such a premium. To solve this problem, Kaeser’s engineering team designed a contained rooftop compressed-air system. This required design work down to the millimeter, but provided a “plug-and-play” compressed-air system after it was installed.
Scholz’s third concern was technology. SAU contracting models feature the latest in Kaeser’s compressor air treatment, system controls, and air-audit technology. First, Kaeser needed to understand the plant demand to build a custom system that would meet Scholz’s production and air-quality needs. They began with a detailed air-demand analysis (ADA) and measured the plant’s air, pressure, and other parameters to complete a detailed compressed-air audit. Based on the audit findings, the new compressed-air system was designed to not only incorporate the very latest in Industry 4.0 technology, but also reliability, quality, and efficiency, as well as impressive energy savings.
A key part of the plant’s compressed-air system is Kaeser’s Sigma Air Manager (SAM) 2. SAM 2 is a master controller and the foundation for the highly efficient operation of the entire system. Since the compressors and compressed-air treatment components are equipped with integrated industrial PC technology, they are able to forward their data to the master controller. As a result, SAM 2 can monitor all components, as well as the environmental and production conditions, and can precisely adapt compressed-air production to match the company’s actual compressed-air requirement. Furthermore, SAM 2 optimizes pressure values, automatically adjusts compressor-system air delivery to accommodate fluctuating air demand, and optimizes system efficiency by constantly analyzing the relationship between control losses, switching losses, and pressure flexibility.
Thanks to SAM 2’s built in Kaeser Connect capabilities, Kaeser service personnel can remotely monitor the new system to ensure uptime. System data are easily viewed on HTML pages, allowing remote diagnostics and significantly reducing troubleshooting time. The alarm notifications alert Kaeser personnel of a possible problem and dispatch a technician right away if necessary. Scholz never has to worry about their supply of compressed air.
Additionally, long-term data storage capabilities mean energy and system data can be analyzed over longer periods of time. SAM 2 also generates reports to clearly show energy consumption and system trends, making it possible to perform energy management in compliance with ISO 50001.
Heat recovery reduces energy costs
Karl-Herbert Ebert, head of technology and development at Scholz, is more than happy with the compressed-air solution. “The entire compressed-air supply ran smoothly right from the outset,” he said. “The container was delivered and once connected, we had our air supply.” Additionally, as part of the agreement, Scholz is not responsible for any maintenance on the compressed-air system and they’ve benefited from the superior customer service.
Ebert is especially pleased that this contracting concept has also delivered significant energy savings. The system has provided Scholz the opportunity to take advantage of heat recovery for the first time. Scholz now uses the heat rejected by the compressors, as a result of the compressed-air production process, to heat the company’s facilities—a measure that has resulted in a 50% reduction in oil consumption in the first year alone. For more information, visit kaeser.com. MT