Floor-to-Cloud Solution for Compressed Air Monitoring Reduces Energy Costs for Major Manufacturer

 Energy costs are always a major issue for manufacturers in all industries, and reducing energy use is a top priority for plant operators because of both environmental and budgetary concerns. A large global consumer packaged goods manufacturer needed to reduce energy consumption and pursue a net zero carbon target. By implementing an innovative solution that could be used in many different applications, the company reduced its energy consumption by a projected 22% annually.

In striving to identify areas where energy efficiency could be improved, the consumer goods manufacturer zeroed in on the use and leakage of compressed air in packaging processes. This is an area with a substantial energy footprint, so the company realized that a compressed air monitoring solution that provided continuous airflow monitoring would help them reach their energy reduction goals. It was important that the new monitoring system included sensors, automation, visualization and a reporting system to provide the location, time and date where excessive air was being consumed.

But the manufacturer had several challenges in implementing an energy monitoring solution. First, most inline sensors do not have real-time clocks, so there is no clarity on timing of an occurrence of a particular event, and without that, operators can’t pinpoint where problems are that can be addressed. Second, all the consumption data needed to be converted to the communications protocol of the existing historian software. In addition, the company needed a solution that could scale to its 38 global manufacturing centers with a single central monitoring and control system. Finally, the company required a supplier that understood packaging processes and could advise on how to develop operator dashboards and reports that would be meaningful, easy to use and customizable.

The company selected Emerson to help build out a solution due to its expertise in all areas of the required system technologies. Emerson developed an integrated floor-to-cloud solution that included the AVENTICSTm smart flow sensors, compact PACSystemsTm edge computing industrial PCs, the highly flexible ConnextTm OPC UA server, and the easy-to-use PACEdgeTm software.

The manufacturer first experimented with custom historian scripting to correct the time/date issue, but determined that it needed a more flexible, scalable solution. To address this, Emerson implemented a Connext platform on a PACSystems RXi2-BP industrial PC, which was then able to “contextualize” the sensor data by adding date and time information to every record. The software was able to transmit the complete data in a format that the historian could read and ultimately display at each line and plant, as well as at a central control room.

The company is using the PACEdge software suite to visualize the airflow and power consumption. Emerson developed a personalized dashboard that can be viewed locally or remotely to aid in the energy reduction analysis. The compressed air monitoring data is analyzed to highlight the best-performing (lowest usage) machines, packaging lines and facilities, allowing best practices to be shared across the facilities and with machine builders to minimize air usage. The system can also alert operations if there is airflow to a machine that is currently idle, allowing them to address it. In addition to finding leaks, savings come through optimization of supply pressures to match air supply and demand. The system shows the peaks and valleys of the processes which provides better data to improve decision making.

The company expects to reduce its air consumption, and thereby energy usage, by 22% annually. The flexibility and scalability of both the hardware and software make it possible to implement the solution on every line at each of the 38 current locations and more to accommodate future expansion.

Could you optimize your compressed air applications to reduce your energy consumption? Are there other areas of production where energy could be reduced? Learn more about how you can improve your energy efficiency with floor-to-cloud solutions for compressed air monitoring as well as many other applications on the Emerson website here.

And if you’ll be at PACK EXPO this week, you can learn more about this application and talk with an expert about your energy usage challenges at our booth #6107 in the South Lower Hall.

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