ABB transforms production energy efficiency.

ABB transforms production energy efficiency.
[Source: ABB Motion}

In manufacturing, energy efficiency is not just a buzzword. It is an ethos. A prime example of this is the collaboration between ABB and the Model Group, a prominent Swiss packaging manufacturer. Together, they have highlighted how embracing modern technology can lead to substantial energy savings and augmented productivity. In their case, saving 900,000 kWh a year, every year.

Switzerland’s Model Group is a large producer of specialist packaging solutions – from basic transport packages to elegantly crafted boxes for chocolates and perfumes. Their Weinfelden facility runs two massive paper machines, both stretching for 80 metres and running 24/7. Using dozens of electric motors, the machines produce paper used to craft about 1.5 billion square metres of corrugated board annually.

Energy efficiency drives the need for upgrading.

Creating paper is an energy-hungry process. As one of the paper machines was approaching its twilight years, the company began contemplating the most efficient and cost-effective way to rejuvenate its operations.

Philipp Lenhard, Technical Manager at the Weinfelden facility, shed light on the company’s vision. “Recycling and energy-efficient production are paramount. It is a focus both for the planet’s well-being and our bottom line.” The older systems were showing their age. Outdated variable speed drives and motors, which had served since 1991 often required significant attention.

ABB’s game-changer

ABB proposed a path that not only rejuvenated the old machinery but also introduced innovative technology. Rather than refurbishing the dated motors, they suggested incorporating their state-of-the-art ACS880 Multidrives, coupled with their energy efficient IE4 motors.

What sweetened this deal further was the financial aspect. These advancements made the Model Group eligible for energy efficiency grants provided by the Swiss Federal government. These grants defrayed about 32% of the entire upgrade cost. The investment in higher efficiency had an immediate return.

Model planned the fast-track installation and commissioning project over two consecutive six-day summer shutdowns. In the first shutdown they replaced the outdated VSDs with the latest ABB ACS880 Multidrives. In the following year, they replaced 36 electric motors with ABB IE4 high efficiency motors for AC induction motors.

Witnessing tangible benefits

The effects of the upgrade were visible not only on paper. The machine’s energy consumption plummeted, resulting in annual savings of up to 900,000 kWh. But the advantages did not stop at energy savings. Post-upgrade, the paper machine’s throughput experienced a noticeable boost from 800 metres per minute to 900 metres per minute. And with later enhancements, there is potential to further augment this to a remarkable one kilometre per minute. Moreover, tweaking motor speed and optimising gears, reduced friction within the machinery, enhancing its lifespan and reducing wear and tear.

Stefan Floeck, ABB’s Division President for IEC LV motors, encapsulated the success by stating, “Energy efficiency is not an overhead. By modernising with efficient motors and drives, companies can witness enhanced performance, whilst also reducing carbon emissions.”

A path for electrical engineers

This collaboration between Model Group and ABB is one sign of the power of technological advancements in electrical engineering. It serves as an encouraging case study, highlighting the tangible benefits of integrating energy-efficient solutions. It is a clear signal for creating systems that are not only powerful and efficient but also environmentally responsible.

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