Real-time capture of energy usage data delivers energy saving and vital process information
Bharat Forge Aluminiumtechnik (Bharat Forge), located in the Saxony area of Eastern Germany, provides innovative aluminium forging solutions for the automotive industry and aims to continually improve its products and services to the highest customer’s satisfaction.
The company was founded as cdp Aluminiumtechnik GmbH & Co. KG in 1996 and taken over by Bharat Forge Ltd. eight years later. Bharat Forge Ltd is part of the Kalyani Group – a USD 2.5 billion conglomerate with a global work force of over 10,000 people.
In 2016 Bharat Forge was awarded the “Daimler Supplier Award 2016 – Global Procurement Trucks and Buses” for the international supply of best quality crankshafts and front axle beams.
Bharat Forge was planning to build a new casting house at its production facility in Brand-Erbisdorf, Eastern Germany in 2013. Since the use of an energy management system was required – one that must be certified for high energy users, such as Bharat Forge – it was decided during the planning process to look for an efficient, modern and sustainable energy management solution to replace current practices, which comprised the manual capturing of meter data throughout the facility.
A vital focus was on the implementation of a solution that provided real time information about assets using the most energy in order to mitigate peak loads, reduce energy cost and define energy costs per product. Another important aspect was to accommodate the various legal requirements regarding the documentation of energy usage and the availability of appropriate, actionable reports to allow for quick and efficient decision making.
In addition, the energy reporting was to be mostly automated, moving the focus from manual data entry to one that would define and mitigate unnecessary energy usage and improve troubleshooting. Looking ahead, it was also important to Bharat Forge to use a system that could be easily administered by its own staff instead of an external agency.
While an energy management system was implemented, increasing demands and other changes made decision makers at Bharat Forge reconsider their initial decision and extend their search for a system that could do a whole lot more than energy management in terms of analysis and reporting. To do that, the new system had to be able to handle various types of meters (gas, water, electricity) as well as different fieldbus systems and protocols.
Eventually they decided to go with a solution comprising hardware and software automation components from Rockwell Automation.
Bharat Forge was impressed by the benefits that a system comprising the FactoryTalk® Historian application, FactoryTalk VantagePoint® EMI, Allen Bradley® CompactLogix™ controllers and Allen-Bradley POINT I/O™ modules from Rockwell Automation would deliver. These included high flexibility, easy-to-use reporting, web based access to real-time data analysis, connectivity to various systems and the use of the existing infrastructure.
Bharat Forge started implementing the new energy management system with analysis and reporting functions in the newly built casting house. It chose a scalable step-by-step approach in order to get used to the new system, to be able to make adjustments where required and train staff in handling it.
After successfully installing all required hardware, the Rockwell Automation service team made sure that data communication between the meters and controllers was functioning as intended.
The next step was the installation of the software used for analysing, archiving and visualising production data. Data from the various types of energy meters are submitted, via a number of different protocols (Modbus, Mbus), to the CompactLogix controllers. This data is then transferred to the FactoryTalk Historian software and visualised via FactoryTalk VantagePoint EMI.
During the planning process Bharat Forge had given Rockwell Automation a clear specification of what type of reports were required. When installing the software tools, these requirements were then implemented in customised report templates.
Finally, while data integration commenced with FactoryTalk Historian and FactoryTalk VantagePoint, the staff at Bharat Forge received training on how to best use and apply the powerful analysis and reporting tool they now had at their disposal and to make the most of the new automation investment.
Having implemented a Rockwell Automation energy management system that does so much more in terms of analysis and reporting, Bharat Forge was able to realise all of its stated requirements. Not only could it clearly define those assets that use the most energy, most obviously the three furnaces, but it also became apparent how extremely they contributed to potential peak energy usage at times when all three were operating at maximum temperature.
By enabling communication between the furnaces it is now possible to prevent more than two operating under high-energy-usage conditions. This contributed to a 15% reduction of peak load times occurring. Being able to predict or avoid peak times, Bharat Forge was able to renegotiate existing contracts with its energy suppliers – based on actual usage data – further reducing costs.
The availability of real-time information and the use of customised reports has given Bharat Forge a clearer insight into its continuous production process. It can now identify and realise improvement points, engage in a more accurate planning processes and minimise unnecessary energy consumption, thus reducing cost. Looking at the general energy use within the production facility, Bharat Forge realised a reduction of 5% inside the casting house.
Identifying the exact energy use of individual assets allows Bharat Forge to assign realistic costs for energy to each asset as well, which helps it to improve its own pricing policy. Additionally, readily available real-time machine data can now be used for historical data management as well as OEE analysis.
One of the major advantages of this solution compared to other systems is that Bharat Forge is able to administer it itself after implementation. Additionally, it is able to change reports and to create its own reports, based on target-group-oriented requirements within the company, as well as reports to help satisfy ever increasing legal institutions and environmental organisations. Last but not least, looking at the usage of gas, a continuous and stable process was created.
By establishing integration and connectivity between the production energy usage and historical data analysis, Bharat Forge has taken an important step towards realising The Connected Enterprise, making its production smart and sustainable.
Bharat Forge is planning to install further electrical meters throughout the entire production facility in order to identify energy usage even more precisely. Outdated gas and water meters are to be replaced by meters with M-Bus connectivity and integrated into the system infrastructure. Furthermore, additional data meters and CompactLogix controllers are to be deployed.
The reports that have been used intensely are continuously updated. Moving forward, Bharat Forge is planning to install mobile alarming tools to deliver automatic notifications to production management staff, in case of an unexpected pending peak load, in order to allow timely action.