Six keys to sustainable manufacturing

The federal government estimates that manufacturing uses about one third of the energy consumed in the U.S.; so, manufacturing companies can play an important role in building a sustainable future. The good news is that engineers – especially design and manufacturing engineers – are already stepping up to the plate.

07/01/2009


The federal government estimates that manufacturing uses about one third of the energy consumed in the U.S.; so, manufacturing companies can play an important role in building a sustainable future. The good news is that engineers %%MDASSML%% especially design and manufacturing engineers %%MDASSML%% are already stepping up to the plate. Engineers design products that conserve energy, reduce waste and eliminate pollution %%MDASSML%% in a sustainable way.

But there’s more to do. The present climate of economic and environmental concerns challenges engineers to optimize manufacturing processes to make them more sustainable.

Here are six key steps in making manufacturing more sustainable.

1. Optimize use of fossil fuels

Cutting energy cost is a win-win situation in today’s environment. Save by turning machinery off when it is not being used. Replace a single speed motor with a variable speed or servo drive to reduce energy consumption. Use a variable speed hydraulic pump. Investigate other alternative sustainable energy sources: wind, solar or hydroelectric.

2. Eliminate waste

Only consume what you need for the final product. In the past, our primary objective was to reduce cost or time to market. Nobody knew or cared whether we were using more than we needed. This applies to every industry, whether it’s the amount of metal, paper, packaging material or whatever material is used. Re-evaluate if investing in precision manufacturing equipment can be justified by waste reduction.

3. Reduce, eliminate pollution

One of the current hot topics is how to reduce environmentally unfriendly substances used in products, and byproducts in manufacturing processes. You hear things such as renewed interest in dry %%MDASSML%% or near-dry %%MDASSML%% machining, using as little coolant as possible while you’re doing metal removal; or de-burring, taking the burrs off of finished material after you’ve cut it.

4. Recycle

Look at the amount of metal chips produced in metal removal processes. People used to fill huge hoppers and haul them to a recycling facility. Now they’re looking at the cost of energy involved. One solution is “chip puckers,” %%MDASSML%% devices that compress chips, remove the coolant and turn them into “hockey pucks.” They are easier to transport and use a lot less energy. Another option is an in-house chip management facility that melts chips and processes them into small billets that can be transported to foundries for reuse.

5. Recover energy

Hybrid cars recover energy otherwise wasted during braking; did you know machines can do it too? Power sharing has its roots in machine tools, where the servos used in metal cutting and seam machines share power through a single power supply. Power produced during deceleration can be returned to the main lines.

Another way to recover energy is to coordinate the cycles of several metal presses. Instead of having all the presses go up and down together and then move the material, skew the cycles slightly to use the decelerated, regenerative power in one to help accelerate the other one. That has no effect on the process time, no effect on the cycle time and it doesn’t cost more. But it saves energy.

6. Save time

Saving time indirectly saves energy. If you can run a cycle faster without using more energy to do it, you can shut it down and save power. Or if it’s a large-scale high-production facility, you can reduce the number of machines you need to produce the same quantity of material.

The challenge of the future

Unfortunately, when most people hear about sustainability, they think of big ticket items such as solar panels or wind farms. But, though they may not have the glamour or get all the attention, it’s the “workhorse” devices such as servo drives, hydraulic pumps and bearing assemblies that will create the sustainable manufacturing of the future. I think we prove that to ourselves and to our customers on a daily basis.


Author Information

Scott Hibbard is vice president of technology at Bosch Rexroth Corp.




No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Your leaks start here: Take a disciplined approach with your hydraulic system; U.S. presence at Hannover Messe a rousing success
Hannover Messe 2016: Taking hold of the future - Partner Country status spotlights U.S. manufacturing; Honoring manufacturing excellence: The 2015 Product of the Year Winners
Inside IIoT: How technology, strategy can improve your operation; Dry media or web scrubber?; Six steps to design a PM program
Getting to the bottom of subsea repairs: Older pipelines need more attention, and operators need a repair strategy; OTC preview; Offshore production difficult - and crucial
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Warehouse winter comfort: The HTHV solution; Cooling with natural gas; Plastics industry booming
Managing automation upgrades, retrofits; Making technical, business sense; Ensuring network cyber security
Designing generator systems; Using online commissioning tools; Selective coordination best practices

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.
This article collection contains several articles on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and how it is transforming manufacturing.
This article collection contains several articles on strategic maintenance and understanding all the parts of your plant.
click me