Steps taken to improve energy-efficiency on an EcoCFlex Classic robot cell that had been in service for several years yielded a reduction in electric power and water consumption of approximately 30%.

BMW Work Cells Cut Power, Water Consumption

Nov. 9, 2017
Energy-efficiency analysis, then update, improves performance for 30 Ecoclean robotic cleaning systems

The BMW Group has been using EcoCFlex Classic robotic part-cleaning cells in several of plants for more than a decade, for example to debur and clean cylinder heads. At the BMW engine plant in Steyr, Austria, 30 of these Ecoclean Monschau units are used. However, in terms of energy efficiency (an important performance parameter for BMW) the systems are no longer up to current standards, in particular their excessive rates of water consumption.

So, BMW Steyr contacted the Ecoclean, inquiring if and how the machines could be energy-optimized.

Analysis reveals options — Ecoclean has developed a potential analysis especially for these types of inquiries. Its technicians will investigate factors such as the water consumption, cleaning agent input, electricity demand on the power drawing equipment, and the consumption of compressed air. For the BMW installation, flow measurements revealed that large quantities of vapor were being extracted from the cleaning cell, causing the machines' elevated water consumption. Furthermore, the analysis identified a major electricity saving potential in operation of the feed pumps.

One measure taken to reduce the water consumption involved changes to the air control dampers. Moreover, the flow within the system was adapted via a modified fan control regime, resulting in substantially less vapor being discharged.

In the case of the booster pump, a variable-frequency drive unit now provides demand-based control and hence, energy savings.

Thanks to these relatively minor improvements, the system's overall electric power consumption was cut by around 30%. Comparable savings were achieved in the volume of water consumption, and also are reflected in a reduced need for cleaning chemicals.

Independently validated — These measures were initially carried out on a system installed in the Steyr/Austria-based engine plant. For an objective evaluation of results, the Technical University of Vienna accompanied the reference project with extensive pre- and post-optimization measurements. Depending on the availability of national or regional programs, the unbiased substantiation of this successful efficiency improvement may support applications for public financing of similar updates, according to Ecoclean Monschau.

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