Petroleum refining is the largest energy user at 31 percent, according to U.S. Department of Energy statistics. The chemical industry is second at 27 percent. The paper and metal fabrication industries are also substantial energy users. Together, these four industries account for 78 percent of total manufacturing energy use.
Manufacturing processes are diverse. Here are cost-cutting for a variety of common industrial applications:
- Finishing operations. Minimize paint booth length and cross-sections to reduce air supply and energy use while maintaining proper air flow. Add variable frequency drives to control systems and air recirculation to the drying cycle.
- Machining operations. Install control valves in the coolant supply piping of each machine to only feed coolant when the machine is in operation. Determine the optimum coolant amount by checking the lowest allowable pressure that does not negatively impact tool life. Turn off machines when not in use.
- Refrigeration systems. Install variable speed control drives on evaporator fans, compressors, and pumps to reduce energy costs; only using refrigeration equipment when needed. Implement active defrost management.
- Robotic systems. Hydraulic and electric robots are widely used in manufacturing facilities. Hydraulic equipment for robots must operate whether the unit is in motion or idle, wasting energy. Electric robots use up to 70 percent less power, depending on the task.
- Cleaning operations. Use an electric timer shutdown circuit to reduce the run time of spray wash pumps, which normally operate (and consume energy) continuously. Select cleaning chemicals that operate at lower temperatures.
- Drying equipment. Minimize heat loss with proper insulation; repair any air leaks. Also, adjust operation flow to ensure that parts arrive at the drying station as warm as possible.
- Process heating. Replace steam systems with energy-efficient, direct-fire gas technology for savings of 33 to 45 percent, depending on the application.
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