Reducing energy costs and increasing product quality with variable frequency drives

27 March 2023

Replacing an inefficient damper-based fan system with variable frequency drives has helped a Brazilian ceramics producer reduce energy use in part of its process by 60%, while increasing the quality of its products at the same time.

Ceramica Tomazia, located in Canelinha in Brazil, produces a range of ceramic brick and tile products used mainly in the construction industry. The production process involves mixing raw materials, before they are pressed, dried, glazed, and then undergo firing in a kiln.
Before the ceramics are glazed and fired, moisture must be removed from the product in a drying room. An industrial exhaust fan was used to pull the heat source from the kiln into the drying room where it was then spread through seven industrial damper-based fans.
“To control the heat in the room dampers were used on the fans. This meant the fans were operating constantly at full speed unnecessarily, wasting energy and making it difficult to maintain the correct temperature accurately,” said Gabriel Robert of G2R Engenharia e Automacao, the company brought in to create a cost-effective solution. “The damper-fans are simply inefficient and ineffective. We introduced Invertek Drives's Optidrive E3 and Eco drives to accurately control the fans, varying their speed depending on the products being dried and the temperature required.”
An Optidrive E3 IP66 / NEMA 4X rated VFD was used on the 15HP motor exhaust fan pulling the heat from the firing room. The outdoor rated enclosure was required due to the dust and heat in the industrial environment.
The seven 3HP (total 21HP) fans used in the drying room are now controlled by a single 22kW, IP20 rated drive housed in a control panel, while all motors used on the fans have individual thermal protection.
Energy use was reduced from 19,423kWh to 7,789kWh as a result of the VFDs being installed.
“The introduction of VFD controlled fans has created significant savings in energy costs. Additionally, the quality and standardisation of the products has been improved thanks to the improved control of the circulation of heat inside the drying room. The customer is very happy with the outcome,” concluded Robert

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