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McKechnie energy drive

25 February 2009

McKechnie Automotive and Engineered Plastics, a manufacturer of engineered plastic assemblies, embarked on a drive to save energy at its Pickering, North Yorkshire, plant, turning its attention on an inefficient injection moulding machine.

A control overhaul on an injection moulding machine has cut its energy consumption by a third
A control overhaul on an injection moulding machine has cut its energy consumption by a third

Rob Howlett, senior process engineer at the factory, said: “We carried out a Pareto analysis across the whole factory and found that this machine was particularly inefficient because of the way it was being operated.”

Howlett then turned to Leeds based drive supplier, Halcyon Drives. “We contacted Halcyon, who designed a control system that they said would save around 30 per cent. We couldn’t believe it would be that much so we arranged a three-month trial.”

The panel delivered by Halcyon combines an ABB industrial variable speed drive with an interface from Powermiser, which provides a straightforward link between the new drive and the existing injection moulding machine motor. Halcyon has calculated that the entire project, including full installation and commissioning, is set to deliver a payback of less than two years.

Apart from the very latest models, most injection moulding machines are hydraulically operated and often waste between 20 and 50 per cent of the electrical power they consume. This is because the hydraulic systems typically pump a constant amount of oil around and dump any excess back to the sump. In contrast, a variable speed drive can control the speed of the pump motor to deliver the precise amount of oil needed for each sequence in the injection moulding cycle.

“It’s been totally trouble-free since it was installed,” concluded Howlett, claiming that the drive has actually cut energy by 33 per cent. “Most of our injection moulding machines are being run more efficiently than this one, but we operate several sites and there are one or two machines where we may consider taking a similar approach.”


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