System Integration & Control Systems Design

Compressed air savings in egg carton production

February 2021 System Integration & Control Systems Design

US expert for industrial compressed air systems, iZ Systems, offers energy audits and other services to reduce energy consumption. Using open PC and EtherCAT-based automation technology, the company has developed a compact standard controller that enables remote monitoring and optimisation of compressed air systems. This enabled food packaging manufacturer, Pactiv, to achieve enormous energy savings following an equipment upgrade and to secure these savings in the long term.

While many companies claim their products or services pay for themselves, iZ Systems can actually prove it. The Georgia-based company provides energy auditing services and control systems that quickly deliver a complete ROI from the resulting energy reductions.

For seven years now, iZ Systems has been providing these services to Pactiv, which focuses on moulded fibre egg cartons. The partnership began with a project to replace the compressed air systems supplying low-pressure blowers, according to David Powell, maintenance manager for Pactiv. “With every blower we tested, the pressures would change too much even if a single nozzle was adjusted,” he says. “The iZ Systems team promised a blower system that would not change in pressure, even if you shut off all but one nozzle, and their system has worked flawlessly.”

Open technologies deliver valuable insights

To ensure that customers’ systems achieve peak performance, iZ Systems must be able to monitor data remotely and make adjustments whenever necessary. In addition to its audits, the company accomplishes these goals through its turnkey iZ Compressed Air Automation and Data Acquisition System, which combines the automation controller, I/O and HMI in a single control cabinet and utilises custom software. Leveraging the open control technology from Beckhoff, the system has been providing connectivity to clients’ diverse networks for years now.

Visualising the numerous compressors and equipment spread throughout entire plants can easily clutter an HMI, so iZ Systems has standardised on the CP2924 multi-touch control panel. The 24-inch widescreen panel is mounted into a control cabinet cut-out to enable easy identification of field components, according to Allen King Jr, inside application project manager.

The go-to machine controller is a DIN rail-mounted CX5140 embedded PC, which reduces space requirements in the control cabinet, while providing advanced capabilities not available in traditional PLCs.

Stratospheric energy savings, guaranteed

By implementing these open, PC-based solutions, the engineering team at iZ Systems was able to keep its promise to Pactiv. As a result of the blower equipment upgrades, Pactiv reduced its energy consumption for compressed air by 45%. “By using blower air, we replaced nearly 300 kW of compressed air with 37 kW. This amounts to a cost saving of nearly $250 000 each year,” says Powell. “The improvements to our air compressor design have stabilised our pressure, and the remote monitoring has given us peace of mind.”

More importantly, the systems with Beckhoff components achieve the utmost reliability. Secure communication with customer machinery via OPC UA allows iZ Systems to monitor any changes in performance and to initiate maintenance measures early on if required. Powell says this, along with excellent support, has been crucial for Pactiv: “The system alerts me when there are any abnormalities with the compressors, but iZ gets the warnings as well and their engineers are usually working to address the issue before I call them.”

Win-win solution for customer and end users

In addition to boosting reliability, iZ Systems has reduced control cabinet footprint by two thirds on average by implementing Beckhoff controls. “Our old control cabinets were much larger because the previous PLC generated an excessive amount of heat, increasing our cooling requirements and energy consumption,” says King. “With the Beckhoff hardware, heat generation is not a problem and we increased our own energy efficiency like we do for our customers.”

In addition, the flexibility and scalability of Beckhoff components allows iZ Systems to build and stock standard control cabinets for future use, rather than designing a custom cabinet for each client.

By creating open systems that support multi-vendor architectures, iZ Systems has the unique opportunity to apply energy-saving solutions from one industry to another. “We try to make the initial acquisition cost attractive to the client while guaranteeing major energy reductions, and the Beckhoff platform has made a huge difference in our ability to meet these goals,” concludes King.


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