Just Another Variable in the Process Automation Industry

Jim Montague Recaps Automation Tools Talked About During Automation Fair 2012. These Tools Help Industry Professionals Save Power and Compete Sustainably

By Jim Montague

Energy is just like speed, vibration, temperature, pressure and flow. It's just another variable that can be controlled and optimized—but thinking about it in these terms is something new. The Energy & Environment forum at the Rockwell Automation Fair 2012 in Philadelphia highlighted tools to help users save power and compete sustainably.

For instance, Doug Demian, applications engineer and predictive emissions monitoring systems (PEMS) engagement manager at Rockwell Automation, reports that Energenic in Mays Landing, N.J., is working with its 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.

"Energenic needed to monitor energy use, chiller and boiler efficiencies, and other parameters, and capture them in a historical database," says Demian. "So we came up with a solution using our RSEnergyMetrix server and FactoryTalk platform that included variable-speed drives (VSDs) and controls, interfaces and links to third-party systems. This allows Energenic to monitor real-time data from its controls through firewalls in its VPN; calculate power going to the VSDs and motor control centers on condensers and pumps; compare present performance to benchmarks; trend that data for future analyses and energy-use optimization; and distribute it to anyone who needs it via web pages. So far, this solution has saved Energenic about 15% on its operating costs."

Alex Jushchyshyn, site manager at Colorcon in Harleysville, Pa., reports that his firm makes colors, coatings, dyes, binders and other products for pharmaceutical tablets, and is using Rockwell's Manufacturing Intelligence to report on the wastewater it sends to its municipal treatment facility and document that water's content to comply with new permit requirements. Basically, Colorcon's one support and three production applications produce water that has to be checked for pH and chlorine, so the company replaced the chart recorder monitoring I/O with FactoryTalk VantagePoint and FactoryTalk Historian solutions.

"This means our operators can do less data entry and get back to making product," says Jushchyshyn. "However, we can also identify and diagnose upset conditions faster and access this data from anywhere. Our metering is also about 10% more accurate, and the few annual water discharge issues we had have dropped to about zero." 
In addition, Aiman Abdrabou, global manager for energy and greenhouse gases (GHGs) at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Akron, Ohio, explains that it's been developing and implementing more sustainable energy strategies for its 50 plants worldwide, including reducing the "energy intensity" of its production processes by 25% in 10 years.    

"Energy management is exactly like a control loop that must be managed continuously, so we have to develop ongoing programs to achieve sustainability. It can't be done as a one-time project," says Abdrabou.

Consequently, Goodyear organized teams at plants in North and South America. Next, it developed energy performance metrics (EPMs) that it posted on online boards, which now include energy-use trends, charts and action plans and are even used to host monthly meetings. Goodyear is also using RSEnergyMetrix to monitor about 10,000 meters, organize and centralize their data, put KPIs on VantagePoint dashboards and generate reports to aid its optimization and sustainability efforts.

"The part that made this affordable was that Rockwwell Automation only charged by the number of licenses, and didn't add on charges for different sites and facilities," says Abdrabou. "We've already saved two or three times over on the initial costs of this system, and we estimate it's going to save about $10 million over about 10 years for all the plants using it."