Why Your CFO Loves VFDs

Variable-Frequency Drives, the Right Software and Motor-Control Centers Push Energy Savings to the Bottom Line

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To achieve the tight motor control requirements needed for ideal film thickness, clarity and strength, the PowerFlex 700 drives deliver precise torque and speed control. BE further benefited by integrating the drives with the PAC. 

This integrated approach reduces drive setup time, and allows users to consolidate drive system configuration, operation and maintenance into one integrated environment. Using one software solution helps reduce engineering time and lowers overall ownership costs.

BE's upgrade resulted in 30% reductions in both travel time and hardware costs, and an impressive 50% decrease in downtime. It also reduced waste, improved troubleshooting capabilities, and cut acquisition costs in half by using PowerFlex vector control drives instead of servo drives.

Take a Broad View

"Sustainability" is the buzzword du jour, and it means very different things to different people. But, one factor that keeps popping up is "savings"—of time, resources, energy or the planet. Whichever particular item you're looking to save, in the end, the measure of success and the strategy used to achieve it will probably be determined in terms of dollars and cents. Therefore, it's important to look at the big picture and take all the variables into account when implementing sustainable production solutions, according to BE's Edgar. By focusing on only one variable that supports sustainability, you risk ignoring many others that work against it.

For example, an extrusion line manufacturer might claim that one of its equipment design features provides a certain "sustainable" benefit. However,  it may choose not to acknowledge that the same feature requires more frequent and lengthy line shutdowns for maintenance and larger scrap generation after each start-up.

"When you're looking to invest in capital equipment, it's important to take into consideration not only the cost of buying the equipment, but the cost of operating it over its lifetime," advises Edgar. "These costs are easy to overlook, but could end up making the difference between being profitable or losing money.

"Our customers view sustainability in a positive light, and making it a priority at BE allows us to meet their sustainability requirements," Edgar continues. "The food and medical packaging films that our customers produce with our equipment support sustainability efforts by replacing other forms of packaging that have a bigger carbon footprint."

He goes on to say, "The greatest efficiencies realized by our customers are in the reduction of scrap because of the increased uptime in their extrusion lines, reduced changeover times between jobs, and consistent line performance for improved quality and decreased rejections," Edgar says.

"The most important benefit for us is the faster design time. Though we manufacture film co-extrusion equipment, we view our role as delivering solutions that allow our customers to make unique and innovative films used in food and medical packaging," Edgar explains. "These solutions are tailored to our customers' specific needs, and as such require significant design time. The system has to allow us to design more complex systems in a shorter period of time." 

Whether you call it energy saving, cost-cutting, sustainability, efficiency or smart manufacturing, it all adds up to savings that eventually show up on the bottom line—and that's what makes any CFO smile.

Nancy Bartels is Control's managing editor.

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