Technology to Counter the Energy Challenge Studies put Focus on Gear Technology to Fight Exploding Energy Bills

Author / Editor: First Published in PROCESS India April 2014 / Dominik Stephan

The process industry notorious for its enourmous energy consumption. The use of right gear technology and optimization of processes will help companies enhance energy efficiency as well as reduce production costs. However, it is also imperative for them to carefully monitor handling processes, especially while extensively employing gears.

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Evolution of Energy: Efficiency Schemes in India
Evolution of Energy: Efficiency Schemes in India
(Picture: Climate Development Knowledge Network and Frost & Sullivan Analysis)

Currently, the Indian process industry is at a crucial point and is faced with difficulties in achieving the expected growth rate. According to The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, India’s gross domestic product (GDP) had been struggling to cross the 5 per cent mark in 2013-14 and is likely to remain in the range of 5-6.2 per cent in 2014-15, which is well below the country’s potential as one of the leading emerging economies.

The Present Scenario: Where India's Energy Goes to...

Despite current challenges, India is well endowed with both skilled manpower and welcoming environment for investments. Consequently, the current infrastructure development, rising urbanization and increasing working age population are driving the development of the process industry in the country.

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The industry contributes to about 13 per cent of the Indian GDP and is highly fragmented with multiple products and comprises multi-tier companies that have diversified facets. Due to rising pressure from global competition and the need for sustainability, process companies in India are on a mission to reduce cost. Such cost reduction has to be achieved primarily by improving energy efficiency, optimizing the usage of electro-mechanical equipment, reducing downtime, maximizing productivity and regular monitoring and controlling of processes.

Dramatic Reductions of Specific Energy Consumption Made

During the last couple of decades, the induction of energy-efficient technologies has led to dramatic reduction in energy consumption in process industry. Yet, a major transformation is underway. Sectors within the Indian process industry such as metals and mining, power, cement, sugar, oil and gas and chemicals place significant emphasis on the precision of their manufacturing processes. This enhances the plant’s efficiency, consequently providing a fillip to equipment manufacturers.

Moreover, the overall productivity improvement through maximum availability of machines is a prime factor to remain competitive and profitable in this industry.

Energy Efficiency – More Than a Buzzword

The Government of India (GoI) has included energy efficiency as one of the eight missions in the Prime Minister’s National Action Plan on Climate Change, and the scope of energy efficiency in industrial segments has been identified. In line with the energy conservation and efficiency policies of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), Perform, Achieve, and Trade (PAT) scheme was formed under the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency (NMEEE).

The primary focus of the PAT scheme is to promote efficient use of energy in the industrial arena. Under this scheme, the Ministry of Power has identified 15 sectors, of which many belong to the process industry, thus implying the fact that it is one of the most energyintensive industries.

Motors are the Premier Energy Guzzlers

Energy consumption in this industry depends on the product manufactured and the process employed. However, on an average, the energy cost in the process industry is about 10-15 per cent of the total cost of the output. Moreover, motors account for over 50 per cent of the overall energy consumption. Hence, proper selection of size and design of the equipment in a plant is crucial to ensure maximum productivity.

Most of these motors are either coupled with gearboxes or used as a geared motor package to achieve the desired torque and speed. Gearboxes and geared motors are widely used and play a critical role in precisely controlling the processes; thus accounting for a significant portion of energy consumption.

The Prominence of Gear Technology

Adjustment of speed is one of the ways to achieve the required output and traditionally, various speed adjustment techniques like chain, belt drives and gear reducers are employed to transmit mechanical power to machineries. Each of these techniques has its pros and cons; from having low acquisition cost to being non-optimal, depending on the context. However, the simplicity of design and the flexibility offered in the usage have resulted in widespread acceptance of the gear technology.

Gearboxes and geared motors are used in a wide range of applications with varying sizes, rotation per minute (RPM), gear type, mountings and gear ratios. The need for improved precision in processes in order to optimize energy consumption has aided increased penetration of gearboxes and geared motors in the process segment.

The Way Forward

Material handling application in this industry will continue to remain the singlelargest user of gearboxes and geared motors in the country. Productivity potential of any material handling activity can be exploited by selecting the right combination of gearbox or geared motors for the desired task.

Requirement for effective solutions and the need to reduce operational expense as well as improve performance without compromising on quality have resulted in end-users gradually shifting towards energy-efficient solutions.

Geared Motors for Better Efficiency

Geared motors have attracted the interest of the process industry, especially in Greenfield projects. Geared motors come with an advantage of being energy-efficient with minimal power loss, simple design, easy installation and compactly sized. In addition, geared motors with aluminum construction body are being highly preferred for small- to medium-sized applications to reduce the overall weight of the OEM equipment.

Inception of conditional monitoring Gearboxes and geared motors are processcritical equipment. Process industry cannot afford unexpected downtime, as it would disrupt the manufacturing process incurring heavy loss to the organization and threatening workforce safety. Hence, it is increasingly adopting predictive maintenance to assist in early detection of failures to avoid costly downtime. Conditional monitoring systems are employed to maximize the availability and efficiency of gear units and ensure safety in a process plant, consequently optimizing production.

Integrate to Reduce Cost

Geared motors with integrated variable frequency drive are set to gain importance in the near future with increase in automation and start/stop cycling applications in the Indian process industry. This integrated solution enables finetuning of speed and adjustable starting torques and enhances process efficiency. Adopting right strategies such as those mentioned here will go a long way in ensuring energy efficiency in the industry.

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