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Smarter molders buy smart pumps

DTI Globalwatch : 20 October, 2006  (Technical Article)
Energy-efficient Unigy pumping system retrofits at Injex Industries, an automotive molder in Hayward, CA, save Injex about $105/day in energy costs on two of its 950-tonners. Above is the Mitsubishi, and pictured below that is the company
Even though unhappy with variable-volume pump technology, one molder tried a new pump system and hit pay dirt. Energy costs on two 950-ton machines are half what they used to be.

After finding variable-volume pumps to be operator-hostile, even for its top-notch program engineers, a skeptical automotive molder in California’s Bay Area tells IMM that it reluctantly gave a new pump technology a trial run on two of its 950-ton hydraulics, a Toshiba and a Mitsubishi.

Guess what happened?
It reportedly saved more than half of the energy costs that it paid in 2000. It’s saving about $105/day on the two machines, which run about 22 hr/day.

Energy consumption dropped by more than 200,000 kWh/year. Power usage plummeted from 73 to 34 kWh. Professors and grad students from a nearby state university graphed the results and charted a 53% savings.

What’s more, the rebates it received from its utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, paid off half the cost of the new system retrofits. Having already achieved savings in the neighborhood of $90,000/year, plans are in the works to retrofit additional machines, including two 2250-ton Natcos.

Cool Efficiencies
Injex Industries Inc. (Hayward, CA) is the molder. Injex exclusively supplies interior trim components for cars and trucks JIT to the Nummi factory in Fremont, CA. Injex operates lean, 24/5, running 36 presses ranging from 700 to 2800 tons.

Every day it produces 62,000 finished parts, does inventory turns every 2 to 3 hours, and employs 400, working three shifts. The pumping system that’s saving it so much money is called Unigy. Unigy systems originally were developed by Kadant AES (Queensbury, NY) in conjunction with NYSERDA, the NY State Energy R&D Authority (Albany, NY).

A Unigy system consists of an integrated pump and motor, and an Einstein of a controller. Using the company’s proprietary, trademarked technologies, Unigy systems are designed to consume near-zero wasted power and generate near-zero heat.

Its pump is called an ITDT, infinite turndown technology. It’s designed to deliver maximum pressure from full flow to near-zero flow and to withstand full loading conditions at 0 rpm. With system tolerances to within .000020 inch, internal leakage reportedly is zero.

The pump is powered by Kadant’s Hy-Dyne rotary motor and drive. Directly coupled to the pump, the servo-like Hy-Dyne system delivers fully variable power on demand at all flow and pressure combinations.

Cooler Oil
As mentioned above, Unigy systems are designed to deliver full constant pressure at almost zero flow without generating excess heat. Unigy uses only the power it needs for the work demanded of it. Injex found oil cooling could be totally eliminated without producing any negative effects on its press hydraulics, and the oil actually runs cooler, according to Tom Taeb, senior manufacturing engineer.

Before Unigy installation, oil temperature was held at 130°F. After installation, the oil reservoir’s temperature is held at 100°F to 110°F. Injex shut off its oil cooler, decreasing the load on its cooling towers and eliminating cooling water circulation, thereby saving about 9 kW. And Unigy’s motor-drive system reportedly has a power factor rating close to unity (perfect efficiency) regardless of the load applied. It runs at 90%-plus efficiencies even at low loadings. Conventional motors operate at less than 10% efficiency.

Cool Controller
Unigy’s controller can collect and process more than 8000 points of data per shaft revolution. A set of proprietary algorithms in the controller determines the proper amperage and voltage to optimize the motor shaft and torque speed, so you can get the required flow and pressure at the pump head.

Soft-start capability is another plus. That saves the electrical distribution system in your plant from the high-current inrush caused by more conventional induction motor startups.

The Unigy’s controller also allows the motor to run at up to 200% of rated power for short bursts. And it offers regenerative capabilities on rapid system deceleration. Unigy systems are fully scalable and are available as retrofits or for integration into OEMs’ machines.
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