Creative Thinking Abounds about Industrial Energy Management

Automation suppliers demonstrate ingenious methods for managing energy use.

06/01/2012


Though we are still in the early stages of both vendors and users deploying automation technologyto support green initiatives, the ingenuity being displayedin this arena is already quite impressive.

As the title of this third supplement on IndustrialEnergy Management suggests, automation technologyis proving to be an integral part of the green movementby monitoring and controlling energy-saving systems inhomes, offices, factories, and beyond.

The four articles in this supplement reveal two thingsabout the role automation technology can be expected toplay as the green movement advances:

  • Virtually every form of automation technology—from hardware devices like drives and PLCs toHMI software—has the potential to support green operations. 
  • A large segment of the automation vendor community has a clear vision of how this technology can be best used in a green economy.

 

This supplement begins with an article that notes that the core objective of the green movement is reducingenergy consumption—or managing demand—anddoing that successfully requires deploying automationtechnology at four levels.

Driving toward a green-energy future

Then there’s an article that explains how using variablefrequency drives can reduce the amount of energy heavyequipment consumes during idle times or when operatingat less than peak loads. The article specifically addressesusing VFDs on large conveyors, but success in that arenacould translate to a host of industries—such as foodprocessing, mining, and oil and gas—where managementwould like to slice energy bills.

Drives of a different type are the subject of an articlein which automation technology is showing the potentialto move industrial cranes away from traditional hydraulicpower to more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendlyhybrid engines. As this article illustrates, hybrid cranescould even make workers more productive while reducingboth emissions and fuel consumption.

The final article is all about the future. It highlightsa zero-energy green home designed and built bystudents at Alfred State College in New York. A controland monitoring system installed in this demonstrationhome provides solid data on the value of investing inrenewable energy systems. It also is enhancing the valueof the educational experience for students working on theproject who gained experience with technologies used forindustrial automation. That’s a win-win situation.

All the stories in the supplement indicate that inthe not too distant future, a lot of automation vendors—and their customers—also will be involved in win-winsituations when it comes to deploying automation technology in support of green initiatives.

- Sidney Hill, Jr., is CFE Media contributing editor.

This article appears in the June Industrial Energy Management supplement to Control Engineering.



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