Motion Control & Drives


Energy savings with Omron frequency inverters

July 2011 Motion Control & Drives

With an annual turn-over of €89 million, the Panasonic Energy Company in Belgium is the biggest producer of alkaline batteries within the Panasonic Group. Recently, the installation of 20 frequency inverters on the heating and air-conditioning systems at the facility made significant advances in energy saving and achieved a considerable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Until recently, all air conditioning units operated year round at full speed, whether work was being done at the factory or not. In terms of new awareness and an initiative to save energy, the first step was to switch off the systems on non-production days. In comparison with previous annual consumption, this yielded an immediate saving of 25% of total energy consumption for the air-conditioning systems. By means of key switches, operators could easily switch off the air conditioning units when certain production departments were not producing. However, the problem remained that there was no intermediate solution and the air conditioning units either worked at full speed, or were switched off. The key switches also had another disadvantage, the enormous peak in energy consumption when all air conditioning units started at full speed simultaneously.

The frequency inverter solution

Omron, a Panasonic preferred supplier for many years, proposed the installation of frequency inverters to control the operating frequency of the air-conditioning system. After consultation, a frequency inverter with four settings (30, 37, 44 and 50 Hz) was chosen and through trial and error the optimum frequency selected. Working with lower frequencies has great advantages: the systems operate quieter; air movement is more controlled and, above all, exponentially less energy is used. In the packaging department alone, the installation of frequency inverters achieved a saving of 109 000 kWh.

Payback

Due to the enormous success of the tests, it was decided to install frequency inverters on all air-conditioning units. Omron inspected the motors and specified the type of frequency inverter accordingly. In total, 20 frequency inverters have been installed with significant saving in annual energy consumption reported. With the original key switch solution, annual consumption was 1,3 MWh, which the frequency inverters have reduced to 0,85 MWh. Energy consumption has been halved in two years and the initial investment costs were recovered completely during this period. Project manager Patrick Neuteleers says, “Not only is Omron saving us money at the plant, but the well-being of our employees has also improved. Previously there were constant complaints about noise and draughts. Following the switch to frequency inverters, these have simply disappeared.”

For more information contact Terry McIntosh, Omron Electronics, 086 066 7661, terry_lynn_mcintosh@eu.omron.com, www.industrial.omron.co.za



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