Energy is just like speed, vibration, temperature and flow. It's just another variable that can be controlled and optimized—but thinking about it in those terms is something relatively new.
For many decades, power was just turned on and off, bills for it were paid, and nobody thought about much beyond that, as long as the lights didn't go out. Well, times have changed. $4-per-gallon gas and other forms of energy become more precious, and everyone wants to run more sustainable operations and produce greener products.
To help users save power and compete on all these sustainable fronts, the Energy & Environment Industry Forum and the Energy Management exhibit were highlights of today's activities at the Rockwell Automation Automation Fair 2012 in Philadelphia.
"Rockwell Automation is the world's largest company dedicated to industrial automation and information, and we make our customers more productive and the world more sustainable," said Mary Burgoon, Rockwell Automation energy and environment market development manager, who moderated the forum.
"How do we help manufacturers meet the challenge of smart, safe and sustainable production? Our approach is based on our core technology—the Rockwell Automation Integrated Architecture," Burgoon said. "Through it, companies can optimize a fragmented environment comprised of disparate systems into a connected, information-enabled plant and supply network. Integrated Architecture combines automation control and information technologies in a converged Ethernet environment.
"As a result, companies can gain access to what's happening directly in their production processes through their business systems. This plant-floor data collected from automation systems provides the real-time intelligence necessary for the optimal use of resources."
Data Organized for Renewable Energy Producer
Energenic, for example, is working with Rockwell Automation's Power & Energy Solutions Group to organize data and improve operations at 14 of the central energy centers (CECs) it builds and operates, and do the same for several solar plants and landfill-to-gas facilities it runs nationwide, reported Doug Demian, applications engineer at Rockwell Automation.
"Energenic needed to monitor energy use, chiller and boiler efficiencies, and many other parameters, and capture it all in a historical database," explained Demian. "So we came up with an integrated solution using our RSEnergyMetrix server and FactoryTalk platform that included variable-speed drives (VSDs) and controls, interfaces and links to third-party systems.