In order to benefit from the tax concessions for energy-intensive businesses, energy consumption must be recorded in a transparent way. However, the design of a corresponding management system can prove to be costly if numerous cables have to be laid to connect the measuring instruments.
Forger Walter Mester GmbH & Co. KG therefore opted for a wireless solution from Phoenix Contact.
Walter Mester GmbH & Co. KG, founded in 1908, produces around 14 million forged blanks out of standard steel, high-alloy steel grades, and nonferrous metals every year. The company uses around five million kWh of energy every year for production, primarily in heating processes.
The flows of energy need to be recorded transparently for two reasons: firstly, instead of estimating manufacturing costs, the company wanted to calculate these on the basis of the energy costs per production step on the machines. Secondly, the German Electricity Taxation Act grants a tax break to energy-intensive operations. With this in mind, the heating processes require an energy recording and management system.
The first tenders submitted to Executive Vice President Ralf Mester proved unacceptable due to the high cabling and installation costs.
As a specialist in application solutions for foundry and forging technology, Isertech GmbH developed a proposed wireless solution for the forger. Thanks to the wireless networking of the energy recording devices, the relevant data can now be transmitted quickly and economically.
This approach is based on the wireless modules in the Radioline product range from Phoenix Contact, which work with Trusted Wireless technology. The wireless standard, which works in the license-free 2.4 GHz ISM frequency band, can cover distances of up to 5000 meters between the individual stations.
Intelligent energy meters from the EMpro product range from Phoenix Contact are also used to record all electrical variables.
Reliable operation, even in harsh environments
“At first, my customer and I had misgivings”, reports Thomas Besbes, who works in Sales at Isertech GmbH. “We weren't sure whether wireless communication would work reliably under the harsh ambient conditions at the forge.”
In fact, the Radioline wireless modules and EMpro energy meters are not affected by electromagnetic radiation from transformers and induction heaters, high temperatures or the permanent vibration of hammers.
At the forge in Warstein, the entire production chain, from the semi-finished product to the high-quality forged blank, was taken into account, whereby both energy meters and wireless systems were installed at the appropriate points.
Central data processing and storage
Once cooled, the blanks need to be separated. Since the state-of-the-art eccentric and hydraulic presses used here require a comparatively small amount of energy, a single EMpro component, which is mounted centrally in the power distribution system for the cutting area, is used to monitor these presses. Thanks to wireless communication via the Radioline modules, only a small amount of cable needed to be laid here.
Soon after the energy management system was started up, it became apparent that the forger would be able to draw even more conclusions from the measurement results. Executive Vice President Ralf Mester explains, “Now we can accurately determine the differences in efficiency between the old, analog furnaces and the new, digital furnaces. We can use this information to decide exactly when we need to acquire a new furnace.”
The acquired data is processed in a central controller. Here users can access information on a web server at any time. Moreover, the data is stored in an SQL database, which ensures that supporting documents can be provided to the tax authorities.
The solution implemented at Walter Mester GmbH & Co. KG demonstrates how energy consumption can be determined transparently with measuring devices installed directly at combustion points in combination with reliable wireless transmission.
The potential for possible energy savings can be identified with very little installation effort and the utilization of the systems optimized. The forger also acquires data that it can use to precisely calculate manufacturing costs, carry out preventative maintenance measures, replace machines in good time, and record consumption within the scope of energy-intensive processes.