Saving technologies: More profit and less emissions
By Richard Chambers
Posted: 21st February 2018 08:31It is typical for industry and logistics to react to the suggestion that they could save costs with comments such as: “do you think we are a poor company?”, “it sounds too good to be true”, or “we have been like this for 30 years and it is ok”. Despite having won several international awards during the last eight years, we are still often met with one of these objections, and so see millions per year go squandered along with the wider concern for the environment.
For instance, we have a clear report from a bus-company customer, that per bus and year they are saving 8% fuel and over 50% oil, so over €7000 per bus, and have also reduced maintenance and repair costs. Using just their savings, they have expanded from around 100 to over 180 buses in eight years. Being told this, one bus company – with similar saving potentials, but operating over 1000 buses – ignores all we tell them and routinely crows: “We are green, we are green, we are green,” without any interest to reduce emissions by 15% for either costs or the environment.
It is true that some claims of other suppliers are far from the truth, but as ours are all backed by scientifically solid test reports, surely it would make sense to spend some time reviewing their possibilities? But many seem allergic to new ideas or alternatives, and so, closing their minds, just keep on spending, instead of increasing the profitability, and also in conjunction their wages. Such rejections can also come from lies of the makers of the unit in question, trying to ensure that it needs replacing or costly repair, or false statements regarding proposed steps.
My enquiry as to the attitude to saving in the United States produced a clear picture that dominates the thinking in industry there. At each yearly review the employee is asked what he has done in the year for cost reduction. If he has done nothing, he scores minus-points. On the other hand, if he says “I did try xxx, but it brought nothing – or went wrong”, he still scores positively. In some other countries there is clearly a fear that if any tried saving goes wrong, it could cause job loss. It is essential that top management states clearly how this matter is to be dealt with in their firm.
In the last 20 years there have been several academic studies in industry, highlighting the high-cost areas, and for nearly all of these there are solid solutions available, if only people would concern themselves with such. But very much in fashion at present is digitalising, too often over-complicated, and sometimes of very questionable value. But when a new complicated system has been mastered, it is regular that those involved just sit back and declare “I am efficient”, declining any other steps.
There are five basic cost areas which should be given attention: Energy consumption, maintenance and wear, production time loss, repair and administration. All are as far as possible simple to introduce. For saving, we have four technologies, either world best or unique in the world, and while this may sound immodest, all have been recognised as such for their performance. In many situations they fit together – “team-work”.
1. The SX-6000
This reduces the energy requirement, or, as for racing drivers, increases the energy which gets to the wheels. “Saving with more performance” has been internationally recognised. Our SX-6000, the only such product in the world, is based on PTFE with high density, following on our previous similar product based on PTFE with low density. The first had a coefficient of friction of 0.04, with a certified wear reduction of 43%, and our present one 0.02, with up to 88% less wear. And of course with less friction, less energy is also required. All these values were established in the world-standard test of the oil industry, but as for instance in a vehicle engine, because the oil scraper rings on the pistons can work much better, and at least 50% less oil is burned, some oil companies carry on with lying opposition and bribery round the world. Also, with less burned oil particles in the oil, and a reduced operating temperature through less friction, oil life can be extended. The bus company above, testing rigorously, step by step increased its oil-change intervals from 70,000 to over 200,000 kilometres.
A study some years ago found that the costs of wear in industry could be as much as 25% of the total operating costs. Wear includes repairs and spare parts as well as total replacement of machines and other equipment.
2. The Powerboss
The Powerboss, unique in the world, is in many aspects programmable, for example to start and stop softly, to eliminate the shock-load and consequent wear which a full-power start always produces. It can also be programmed to stop if the load becomes too high, and if it goes to null, as with a jam or break in a conveyor system, or if a pump runs dry. It checks the load on the motor every 88th of a second, and delivers only exactly enough power to maintain a constant speed. Nearly every electric motor installed has a load capacity above the maximum needed for its work, as motors are sized in steps of five, 10 and, with big ones, even more kw, so that without the Powerboss it will always take more electricity than needed, and thus over-magnetise and over-heat. Metal-working machines always have wide differences in their power need while drilling, cutting or bending, and while the worked metal pieces are being swapped out, or automatic tool-changes, have no load at all, but without the Powerboss the full electrical supply still flows, and wastes money.
There is where some suppliers claim another way to save power, with a frequency inverter slowing the motor down. However, frequency inverters are only really justified where the motor speed MUST, for its work, be changed. The device takes for itself around 7 – 8% more electricity, needed for the conversions from alternating current to direct, and then alternating back to the required speed, even when no speed reduction or speeding-up is required, so then a pure waste. One such example is with air compressors, where it is claimed to save around 10%. Against this, the Powerboss saves on all such compressors at least 16%, and by also adding SX-6000 to the compressor the saving rises to over 20%, with, as well, lower maintenance costs plus life extension.
One extremely stupid inverter application is with escalators, where, if not loaded, the speed is reduced considerably, giving a claimed 30% saving. In some known cases the escalators run 24 hours per day, with even up to 80% of that time without any load. Against this, in for example Sydney Airport, the escalators have the Powerboss, and going upwards fully loaded with passengers and their baggage, already 16% is saved. With the same load going downwards, the weight of the load adds further to the saving. After there has been no load for more than a few seconds, instead of continuing to run, the escalator is switched off until the next foot lands on the starter panel. Soft start and soft stop have reduced the fall-outs and maintenance costs by over 80%, and instead of a claimed saving of 30% electricity for 80% of the day, all the time without a load 100% is certainly being saved.
In food, paint and other mixing, the Powerboss has been found often to save over 50%, and if controlling a vacuum system, for instance to extract alcohol, around 40% is normal.
3. The Ultrasonic SPY
In maintenance there are several computer systems aimed to control and plan the work. But is it really clever to have a system which in March instructs to plan maintenance work for July, and allow the detrimental wear to continue? With the Ultrasonic SPY, most users say that they can understand what they hear, and so, right at the start of any wear, they step in and prevent it going further. Production fall-out, whether because of breakage or planned maintenance, loses money. The SPY was found by NASA to be three-times as sensitive as the next-best ultrasonic fault-searcher in the world, and so sent three of them out of this world, to work on the ISS. With compressed-air leaks being found at a range of up to 30 metres, instead of less than 10, professional leak finders report that they can find up to 50% more leaks than with their previous device, and also much quicker.
This fact highlights one problem encountered, not just concerning ultrasonics. In many commercial faculties students learn from their professors that one should buy cheap to save the company money. But with no mention of the relationship between price and performance. For instance, the 50% more leaks found will pay in a short time for a much higher price, and in the case of a factory using potentially explosive gas, or a refinery producing it, a lot more spending must be justified, as it in fact has already on several such dangerous sites.
We had one case, with a paper factory, which was quite remarkable. In the first two weeks after the SPY was delivered, and they were still learning its many application areas, we received an excited email, telling us of a defect they had found, and that, if they had not, the consequential damage would have caused a five-figure repair, and a considerable loss of production time. In another paper works, where during a demonstration, I myself had found something similar, but the buyer refused the SPY as too expensive, and they ignored my warning, when it broke they took nearly three months to get back into production.
4. The LecWec
Initially, with “LecWec” – our product which regenerates shrunken polymer oil seals – there was resistance. “We must do a proper repair”. So, strip the machine down and replace, six to eight years from new, the shrunken gasket, losing production time, often, with bigger machines, for days. What however has been experienced with LecWec is that, as long as the oil into which it was added remains in the machine, the leak does not return. We have had user reports who used LecWec more than 15 years ago which confirm this. And the treatment can often be performed while the machine is running. One typical small use is when a car’s power steering unit starts to leak. These are specifically designed so that a car workshop cannot replace the gasket, with the intention that a new unit must be installed, typically costing a four-figure amount, averaging about $1350.The LecWec dose of 10% costs for such a small unit only around $12. As LecWec is chemically neutral and stable, it can be used with all oils in all systems with polymer oil seals. Many maintenance workshops now hold a 500ml bottle in stock, as their standard answer as soon as an oil seal “sweats”.