Energy efficiency in industry, trade and agriculture


Using electricity more efficiently provides a challenge to most industries. But modern IT, sustainable lighting, pump systems and innovative ventilation units can help meeting it.

Image Copyright: Rakusen

Factory building with multiple uses of electricity and optimisation options

© Rakusen

Outdated machinery, incorrectly dimensioned systems, inefficient pumps – these are just some of the reasons for the huge potential to save energy in industry and agriculture. Between them, industry, commerce, trade and services are responsible for around 70 percent of total power consumption in Germany (see German Environment Agency).

Considerable improvements need to be made in relation to electric drives in particular, as well as cross-sectoral technologies, which are used in various industries and sectors. Energy-efficient pumps, optimised air pressure systems and conveyor technology, lighting and ventilation could produce significant savings.

Business and industry are satisfied customers when efficiency technologies and services are successfully implemented. These allow them to save costs and compete effectively on an international stage.

A large number of German companies can provide valuable practical examples of how the energy efficiency of electrically powered plants and systems can be enhanced. German providers of efficiency solutions for industry and agriculture have established themselves successfully on the global market.

A closer look: Pump systems

The direct interfaces between the motor and the pump system are the coupling on the motor shaft and the connection to the power electronics or the power grid. Both the coupling and the power electronics can be used to control the speed of the pump. Frequency converters can be used in this case to continuously modify the speed of the motor and thus control pumping capacity. A frequency converter converts the fixed mains voltage into a motor voltage that varies in frequency and voltage level.

Selecting and controlling pumps

Pumps and their motors have an optimum operating point, which should be determined as accurately as possible when selecting the pump. The size of the motor is crucial – if it is too small, it cannot perform the task it is supposed to do. On the other hand, if the motor is too big, it leads to higher energy consumption as well as additional investment costs.

To minimise energy costs and wear, the pump model and size must be tailored to the process requirements and selected control strategy in such a way that the
various operating points are within the range of the highest degree of efficiency. An average of 35 percent of the energy consumed by pump systems can be saved by optimising pump operation to achieve the optimum operating point.

Other important fields to optimise pump systems are the layout of pipelines, reliable operation of the pump as well as installation, maintenance and measurement technology.For more information, please consulat the brochure Energy solutions - made in Germany.

A closer look: Compressed air systems

When optimising energy efficiency in compressed air systems, the entire system – from consumer to generator – should first be considered as the consumer determines the pressure level, quantity and quality of the required compressed air. All available system components, such as generation, processing, control, storage, distribution and, if
applicable, heat recovery, should function without adversely affecting these parameters.

To optimise electricity requirements for the operation of a compressed air system, all options for reducing the compressed air requirements must be taken into consideration. For example, the system pressure must be adjusted in such a way that pressure losses are minimised. Actual requirements can be best met either through individual compressors with a speed-controlled drive or through several smaller compressors to cover standard, average and peak load consumption.

To learn more about compressed air systems, please consult the brochure Energy solutions - made in Germany.

A closer look: Conveyor technology

Image Copyright: Jovic

© Jovic

Conveyor (material handling) systems are a key element of industrial production workflows and is used in all aspects of production, assembly and handling technology, sorting and distribution systems, packaging technology, transport, storage and handling processes as well as in other logistics areas.

A variety of different measures can be implemented in this area to save energy and costs. Almost all conveyor systems require electricity to operate. In the case of electromotive drives in particular, electricity consumption can be reduced significantly by using appropriate energy efficiency measures such as demand-based operation and braking energy.

Optimisation and modernisation

The modernisation of material handling components extends the lifetime of conveyor systems. Since the average lifetime of the functional units differs considerably, replacing individual components can make economic sense. A long-term strategic plan is necessary for this purpose. It should include all energy-related aspects.

For more information on drive control, automation and electrical installation as well as electric motors and drives, take a look at the brochure Energy solutions - made in Germany.

A closer look: Ventilation technology

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Ventilation technology is an integral component of modern manufacturing facilities in industry, agriculture and commerce. Ventilation and air-conditioning technology
supports or replaces natural ventilation, is responsible for removing impurities from the air and guarantees the operation of sterile spaces, for example. Process air technology allows the required levels of air quality to be provided in the production process.

Huge efficiencies can thus be gained by using the right technologies.

Systems for transporting and processing air are part of the numerous areas of application of ventilation technology systems. In a broader sense, systems for gases, such as combustion gases, exhaust air and protective atmospheres can also be included, as can systems in which gases, and in particular air, can be used as a means of transport for other substances.

The following approaches can contribute significantly to the energy efficiency of ventilation equipment and systems:

  • Optimising fan running times
  • Approximating the fan speed to the actual current air requirement
  • Maximising overall efficiency
  • Optimising electric motors and drives
  • Optimising control systems

For more information and optimisation approaches for fans, blowers, electric motors and control technology, take a look at the brochure Energy solutions - made in Germany.

A closer look: Green Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

Image Copyright: Amprion GmbH

© Amprion GmbH

A sustainable ICT strategy can help companies and public institutions to cut their electricity costs and CO2 emissions significantly. There are five key areas to be prioritised when implementing a sustainable IT strategy for efficient office organisation.

  • Needs assessment: With hardware and software often being replaced constantly these days, IT workstations can be optimally equipped to meet their specific needs. A distinction should be made between stationary workstations with high processing power and graphics power requirements and mobile workstations. The workstations should then be set up according to actual needs.
  • Technology: Users can choose from a selection of computer technologies when installing technical equipment for office workstations. Depending on electricity costs, higher purchase prices for more efficient equipment may make more sense financially over the productive life of the equipment.
  • Procurement: Efficiency is a vital criterion in assessing equipment over the long term. It should be considered in invitations to tender and in purchasing decisions.
  • Configuration: In many cases, the equipment must be configured appropriately to work efficiently. Appropriate steps should be taken to ensure this.
  • Raising awareness: For the best results, all employees should be involved in implementing efficiency measures.