In the age of Industry 4.0, KAESER supplies compressed air to Horst Scholz GmbH & Co. KG under a contracting agreement. This saves significant energy costs.
Horst Scholz GmbH & Co. KG is a manufacturer of precision plastic parts. These include products used in medical technology and precision engineering parts, destined primarily for the automotive industry. The medical sector in particular insists on stringent requirements to ensure high product quality – and it’s no different when it comes to the quality standards for the compressed air the company relies on for control and process air.
When it came to modernisation of the existing compressed air station, the company’s management decided to opt for a compressed air contracting arrangement to ensure that the compressed air supply would always meet the latest technical standards and be capable of taking advantage of the benefits that Industry 4.0 has to offer – and not least due to the frequent fluctuations in demand in the automotive supplier industry. In this operator model, the compressed air station itself remains the property of the air system provider, whilst the customer simply uses the compressed air as needed, just like power from an electrical socket, paying only for the volume of compressed air actually used – and always at the same fixed rate. From an accounting perspective, this effectively turns fixed costs into variable costs. At Scholz, the new station was installed in a space-saving container on the roof of the company building.
The latest technology, such as the Sigma Air Manager 4.0 (SAM 4.0), ensures that the compressed air is available at all times and is produced efficiently to ensure maximum energy cost savings.
Precision analysis results in customised solutions
Following a detailed compressed air audit to identify the company’s exact compressed air needs, Scholz’s compressed air station was designed to incorporate the very latest technology, including all of the features that today’s advanced stations should offer. Of course, first and foremost, this includes outstanding reliability, quality and efficiency, as well as impressive energy savings. In addition, ease of maintenance together with networking and integrated control features consistent with the Industry 4.0 environment also play a key role, not least in laying the foundation for predictive maintenance. A safety concept was also devised. The data gathered during the analysis were input into the new system's controller – a SIGMA AIR MANAGER 4.0 (SAM 4.0) in this case – and therefore provide the foundation for highly-efficient operation of the entire system. Since the compressors and compressed air treatment components are equipped with integrated industrial PC technology, they are able to forward their data to a master controller. This master controller monitors all components, as well as the environmental and production conditions.
is also able to precisely adapt compressed air production to match the company’s actual compressed air requirement. Furthermore, amongst many other key benefits, the SAM 2 optimises pressure values, automatically adjusts compressor system air delivery to accommodate fluctuating air demand and optimises system efficiency through constant analysis of the relationship between control losses, switching losses and pressure flexibility. This advanced controller also enables the compressed air station to benefit from future services, such as predictive maintenance. The controller also allows remote diagnostics capability. If requested by the customer, this option means that performance data are constantly sent to a data centre operated by the compressed air system provider for monitoring. The master controller independently analyses the situation at all times and, if appropriate, sends a message to the service team, or directly to the local installation technician or the central data centre. The air system provider’s central data centre then acts as the dispatching point for all further activities – worldwide.
Fast and secure with Sigma Network
To ensure rapid, secure transmission of data both internally and externally, the compressed air station at Scholz is additionally equipped with Sigma Network. This powerful and secure closed network is Ethernet-based and guarantees optimal monitoring and efficient control of the compressed air station as well as maximum data security. Collection and analysis of performance data makes it possible to revolutionise system servicing and maintenance: compliance with fixed intervals is no longer necessary, as service is performed only as required. When service is needed, the master controller simply sends notification accordingly and the material-flow infrastructure is managed in parallel through the manufacturer’s worldwide data centre.
We now have a convenient compressed air supply solution.
The material requirements can be sent automatically to the distribution centre, which then coordinates delivery of materials with the manufacturer’s production or sub-suppliers. This ensures a ready supply of materials and keeps costs to a minimum, since unnecessary production is avoided. All of these innovative measures help to enhance operational reliability and efficiency, and, at the same time, reduce both energy and total life-cycle costs.
Heat recovery reduces energy costs
The new compressed air station provided Scholz with the opportunity to take full advantage of the benefits that heat recovery has to offer for the first time. Scholz now uses the recyclable heat from the compressors that arises as a result of the compressed air production process to heat the company’s facilities; a measure that has already resulted in a reduction of some 50 percent in oil consumption in the first year alone.