Tuesday, 2 August 2016

John Guthrie, Energy Efficiency Manager, ABB writesBusinesses must invest to grow – that’s a given. But when expansion means installing new equipment companies can find themselves facing a large (and sometimes unexpected) bill for upgrading their power supply to cope with increased demand. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to avoid such a cost, while perhaps helping to realise additional benefits at the same time?

Brintons Carpets faced exactly this challenge when it wanted to introduce more spinning and carding machines to increase production capacity. The problem centred on the machines’ DC (direct current) motors, which had such a poor power factor and excess current demand the company was concerned its existing power supply might not be able to cope with the increase in demand. The company found itself facing a potentially expensive upgrade of its factory’s existing transformer, busbars, substation and switchgear.

Brintons approached ABB authorised value provider, Sentridge Control, and asked them to set to work analysing the power supply. Its results showed that replacing the DC with AC (alternating control) motors would vastly improve the power factor, dramatically cutting current usage and, therefore, avoiding the need for an expensive upgrade.

It was a great result for Brintons. However, the upgrade also brought other benefits too. By combining the AC motors with ACS880 variable-speed drives, Sentridge found that Brintons could also save over 500,000 kWh in energy – equivalent to a 25 percent reduction.

The upgrade also enabled Brintons to reduce maintenance costs. The DC motors had needed regular maintenance with each one requiring 12 carbon brushes to be replaced every year. This totalled about £5,000 just on replacement carbon brushes across all DC motors and excluding the manpower needed to carry out the maintenance work.

Flooring the cost of maintenance and sweeping away the need for expensive upgrades, Brintons now has more capacity combined with a much more efficient use of energy.

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