Recipient of AFS 2014 Applied Research Award
Knowledge of how melting furnaces and other energy-intensive equipment is used can provide new insights and savings for any foundry. Solutions can be identified for reducing energy consumption, improving productivity and increasing production.
The American Foundry Society sponsored an innovative R&D project to explore common benefits for foundries, utilizing new cost-effective technologies available from Sensor Synergy, Inc. This effort proved so successful that Sensor Synergy was awarded the prestigious AFS Applied Research Award in 2014. Details of this accomplishment are provided here.
Savings identified at one of the host foundries was the equivalent of revenue from $25,000,000 of additional sales.
The AFS Energy Committee approved this effort as R&D project AFS-12-13#03 (Identifying, Implementing & Sustaining Energy Savings), and the project was started in June, 2012. The Engineering Division 1, Energy Committee monitored the R&D project for AFS. Two foundries volunteered to host this project and actively support the research efforts.
During the past 2 years, Sensor Synergy has worked with AFS to identify energy saving opportunities in several foundry facilities that participated in the R&D project. Sensor Synergy's methodology uses specialized monitoring instruments to measure equipment power usage and other parameters to capture metrics reflecting production activities in the foundries. These measurements yielded significant, previously unavailable information about energy use patterns at our host foundries.
Advanced analysis combined these metrics with other operational and scheduling information provided the foundries. This empowered managers with new perspectives of how their operations performed. Numerous opportunities for significant savings were identified, especially the furnaces. These findings are applicable to virtually all foundries in the industry.
This highly successful project is now commercially available as part of the AFS Energy Solutions Program, which TDI manages for AFS. While available to any AFS member, an exclusive discount of 20% is only available from TDI to AFS Corporate Members who wish to purchase the system.
The emphasis of the Applied Research Award is to recognize practical research that:
- Directly addresses pressing technical problems faced by metalcasting facilities,
- The speed with which the research is transferred into shop floor applications
- The collaborative role in developing and implementing technology.
Why did AFS undertake this research?
- To identify energy saving opportunities appropriate to the foundry industry, with special emphasis on melting operations.
- Choose three areas for detailed analysis as a Project (with induction melting as one of them). Incorporate foundry personnel in the identification of potential "energy hogs" for analysis.
- Correlate energy consumption data with other production and process information.
Include process information such as alloy, charge weight, equipment malfunctions, etc. in the analysis, to provide comprehensive analysis of savings opportunities. Consider process changes, equipment enhancement, management goals, site constraints, and environmental considerations in evaluation of energy saving opportunities.
- Develop Key Performance Indicators specific to the foundry community, including baseline operations, visual operator feedback graphs, and management metrics.
Major Project Results
The AFS R&D project was created to find ways to identify energy saving opportunities for foundries. As the project progressed, exciting discoveries were made as the project evolved. New opportunities emerged, and now AFS Energy solutions program has identified not one, but two, key benefits for foundries:
- Efficiency & Throughput Improvement
- Energy Savings
Projects Completed and Savings Identified
Several AFS Corporate Member foundries provided invaluable assistance and participation in this major R&D project. The Sensor Synergy system was quickly installed in their production foundry environments and metrics collection began immediately. Both foundries supported this project with significant investments of time and operations information that was used to great effect in the benefits analysis for each of the following projects:
Click on each of the following for Project Details:
Look for our ongoing updates and case studies discovered by other AFS foundries based on their use of real-time, energy-use monitoring systems like the Sensor Synergy system. Continue to look to Sensor Synergy and outstanding high-tech partners to bring additional tools to the foundry community.
A complete initial system from Sensor Synergy is sold for under $18,000; in recognition of AFS support for this significant R&D effort, AFS corporate members receive a discount of over 20%. Foundries choose from a wide array of sensor and data analysis options, based on the type and scale of equipment to be monitored. Three months of data analysis and six months of cloud data storage is included in the purchase price. Full details of system components and analysis services are available on request.