Energy Efficiency has become critical in hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Hydraulic and pneumatic producers are competing to reduce energy consumption in every area they can, from improved design in valves and pumps to right-sized components, pressure regulation, machine design, and advances in hydraulic fluids. Accumulated energy savings from these individual efforts can range from 15 percent to 35 percent. Taken together, these improvements can significantly drive down energy consumption.
Much of the gains have been driven by plants' needs to drive down energy consumption. Just a few short years ago, this wasnít a major concern as they looked to hydraulic and pneumatic systems. Those days are gone. Now, energy consumption is a major concern. As well as cost, plants are also looking to become good environmental citizens by reducing their carbon footprints.
One of the approaches to reducing energy consumption is to reduce the size and space of the components. Integrated automation is another area that delivers energy savings, and variable speed drives are yet another move for saving energy.
Design News recently gathered experts in energy efficiency in hydraulic and pneumatic systems to discuss recent advances in energy efficiency. The Design News Webcast, "Energy Efficiency: Pneumatics/Hydraulics," brings together David Dornbach, engineering manager from Hydra Force; and Neal Hanson, product manager for industrial valves and electrohydraulics at Bosch Rexroth.
With regard to pneumatic systems, the single largest cost in any plant is - LEAKS. Walk through any plant, paying attention to your ears. You will hear, EVERYWHERE, the hiss of leaking compressed air. That sound is money being literally thrown away.
If one wants to save energy, reduce consumption, then the leaks must be found and fixed. Only after the plant floor stops hissing would optimizing the pneumatic system for efficiency make sense.
It's analogous to proper tire pressure and fuel economy. Keeping tires properly inflated is probably the simplest way to improve fuel economy, but is the most ignored.
The solution can be as easy as some pipe sealant paste or tape, or repairing/replacing a cracked hose. A single 1-mm air leak can cost $200 / year (based on calculations found on the net). One leak may not sound like much, but even a small plant will have multiple leaks. Just 5 is a $1000 per year, and that is if they're as small as 1 mm.
Sounds like the cost of a repair would pay for itself, TJ. As for sounds in plants, I've heard some complaints from baby boomer plant managers who say that the young engineers coming into the workforce rely too much on computer technology and they're not learning to tell the health of the plant by sound and vibration.
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