Full of Energy

Columns From: Products Finishing, ,

Posted on: 9/1/2010

But finishing plants should look at reducing inefficiencies
One thing I’ve continually heard over the past several months is the need for finishing facilities to become more energy efficient in order to hold down costs and run a leaner operation.

One thing I’ve continually heard over the past several months is the need for finishing facilities to become more energy efficient in order to hold down costs and run a leaner operation.

This month’s edition deals with energy issues that we think might help you become even more aware of the need to reduce costs and put money back into your pocket, instead of letting it fly up the flue.

On page 26 we follow an inspection of an e-coat cure oven by KMI Systems (Crystal Lake, IL), and show you what they found that might be costing the owners a few extra bucks that they could be saving, or better yet, investing back into the business.

As Matt Kirchner pointed out in his July management column (“Wasted Energy Equals Lost Profit”), every watt, every light and every extra machine left running counts in the bottom line of your operating costs.

But there is a way to turn your facility into a leaner, more energy efficient operation. The U.S. Department of Energy likes to showcase Progressive Powder Coating (Mentor, OH) as a good example of improving energy efficiency. Like most metal finishing plants, Progressive Powder Coating used a convection oven in its manufacturing process, but it was experiencing bottlenecks in the production process because of the time required to cure thicker pieces of metal in the convection oven. That forced the plant to slow the conveyor line speed, which reduced productivity.

In an effort to save energy and improve production, Progressive Powder installed an infrared oven in between the powder coating booth and the convection oven on its production line. The IR oven allowed the plant to increase its conveyor line speed and increase production by 50%. In addition, the plant was able to reduce its natural gas consumption, yielding annual energy savings of approximately $54,000. With a total project cost of $136,000, the payback was 2.5 years.

And it appears that many of you could use some help in finding ways to save money on energy costs. The Austin Co., a national firm of designers, engineers and constructors of efficient commercial and industrial operations, reported earlier this year that their research of metal finishing plants sometimes saw energy efficiency rates as low as 15%.

They claim that exhaust fans and the actual electroplating/anodizing processes each use the about the same percentage of the total energy costs by finishing plants (about 25% each), followed by lighting (11%), hoists and drives (5%), ovens (4%) and so on.

Related to energy, we also take a look at a persistent problem that has plagued a lot of electrical systems around the world, and that’s the whiskers issue. On page 30, we tell you how NASA is getting involved to help finishers avoid letting their products develop these nasty annoyances, which eventually find their way into high-end components such as computers, machinery and sometimes even spaceships.

In this issue, we also preview the North American Industrial Coating Show at the Indianapolis Convention Center, Oct. 27-29, put on by the Powder Coating Institute and NACE International. The event, which Products Finishing is also sponsoring, is replacing PCI’s The Coating Show and NACE’s CoatingsPro show.

The NAIC show kicks off the ‘fall season’ of industry shows, followed by FABTECH and the new CCAI Finishing Pavilion in Atlanta Nov. 2-4, and the Electroless Nickel Conference in Charleston, SC from Nov. 8-9.

Hope to see you there.
 



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