Creating energy-efficient robots
From placing bricks in the toilet cistern, to cling film over the windows, there are many ways to save pennies on your energy bill. In manufacturing, saving energy can be a whole lot simpler and making small but significant changes can drastically reduce energy consumption.
Here, Jonathan Wilkins, marketing director at obsolete industrial parts supplier, EU Automation, discusses how three technologies can improve the energy efficiency of industrial robots.
Manufacturers are introducing more automated systems to the factory floor to streamline the production line and efficiently deliver products to customers. However, as the factory increases its automated processes, it requires more energy to complete production.
With energy efficiency standards becoming stricter, manufacturers aim to reduce carbon emissions across the factory. The introduction of standards, such as ISO 50001, encourages manufacturers to improve energy performance and identify areas where they can reduce energy consumption. Manufacturers can then monitor each asset on the assembly line to determine where they can best save energy.
Most industrial machines operate using motors, and around 65 per cent of energy consumption in industry is attributed to these parts.
When monitoring equipment, manufacturers may find that the motors are working faster than required and might even be running when the machine is not in use.
Installing a variable speed drive (VSD) is the best way to reduce motor speed to align with production. This equipment regulates speed and force of an electric motor to adjust the speed based on that of the assembly line. Using this technology prevents unnecessary energy consumption when the machine is working at a slower production rate.
It is a common misconception that only new equipment will be energy efficient. However, manufacturers that use older equipment also have the opportunity to reduce energy consumption. While obsolete parts are no longer produced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), it does not mean that they are not energy efficient.
Some industries, such as the pharmaceutical sector, rely on obsolete parts to keep systems running but also want to ensure that their processes are cost and energy efficient. Technology is advancing quickly, meaning that parts can easily become obsolete. Many of these parts meet current energy efficiency standards, despite no longer being produced, meaning that manufacturers can use them, rather than replacing an entire system.
Relying on parts suppliers can ease the process of sourcing obsolete equipment, as it can be difficult to find the correct component. Using obsolete parts allows manufacturers to optimise their current system, rather than replacing it. Sourcing obsolete also promotes a circular economy as parts are given a longer lifecycle, rather than being disposed of in a landfill.
It is important for robots to run efficiently and use only the required power. However, if the software programming is not frequently updated, the machine will still use excessive amounts of power.
Introducing new software can also improve the energy efficiency of a robot. Manufacturers can monitor and manipulate any asset by creating a digital twin using real-time analytical data. The manufacturer can then determine if the machine is using excessive energy and try to solve the issue using the digital twin before adapting the physical machine, efficiently reducing energy consumption.
These technologies ensure that manufacturers can run efficient machines, providing the best products to customers at the lowest cost and with little impact on the environment. Manufacturers can then save money on utilities bill without the need for bricks in the cistern.
Financing rises in digital platforms and renewables projects
Cold Bore is leading a shift in the completions (fracking) industry towards safer, more autonomous operations by providing oil & gas companies with SmartPAD, a centralised fully integrated software and hardware platform designed to collect, analyse, and report data. Better utilisation of this data unlocks operators’ ability to make improvements across all KPIs.
Results from a recent SmartPAD implementation with Hibernia Resources, saw the Permian-based producer able to reduce the duration of their completions program by 15 days (27%), with commensurate reductions in cost and emissions.
Along with this investment from bp ventures, bp will be deploying Cold Bore’s SmartPAD in bpx energy’s US onshore operations. The technology will support bpx’s efforts to continuously improve its operations.
“The oil & gas industry has realised that technological innovation is key to meeting growing calls for reduced emissions and improved returns. Cold Bore is proud to be playing a leadership role in the future of oil & gas operations.” said Brett Chell, Co-founder & President at Cold Bore Technology.
“As we scale to meet incredible demand, we’re excited to have a strong strategic partner in bp, a forward-thinking international energy company, and to play a part in helping bp reach its carbon and operational targets. The future of the oil & gas industry is autonomous operations."
Existing investors include the Rice Investment Group (RIG), a $200M multi-strategy, energy sector investment fund.
Another company in the spotlight last week was Soltage, a leading independent renewable power producer, which has raised a $130M debt facility led by Silicon Valley Bank. The investment will finance a 110MW national portfolio of projects across North Carolina, South Carolina, Maine, Illinois, Virginia and Maryland.
The construction of this portfolio will be staged over the next three quarters, with construction currently underway on ten projects across four states. Customers purchasing electricity from the projects financed through this debt vehicle include Investor Owned Utilities buying power under Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) contracts, community solar subscribers and corporations purchasing power from the portfolio to meet clean energy goals and lower energy costs.
Silicon Valley Bank is the Sole Coordinating Lead Arranger of the debt facility with three other banks included as lenders. This facility includes an optional $100M expansion feature to finance additional projects beyond the current set of identified projects. This announcement marks the latest development for the Soltage Iris capital vehicle, following Soltage and Harrison Street's $250M commitment in March to deliver 450MW of new solar, solar+storage and standalone storage development across the US.
"Soltage continues to provide stable investment opportunities for capital providers who are looking for bankable approaches to sustainable infrastructure investment," said Sripradha Ilango, Soltage CFO. "We are pleased to continue to bring to market high quality project portfolios that open avenues for corporations, utilities and families to adopt solar power and achieve decarbonisation priorities."
"We are at a critical point where funding domestic infrastructure to bring more clean energy online in the United States is of the utmost importance," said Bret Turner, Market Manager at Silicon Valley Bank. "Our team is proud to work with Soltage to support building these essential zero carbon energy projects in key locations across the country."
This announcement is part of a continued movement of mainstream investors looking to solar and other renewable infrastructure assets for long-term investment opportunities. Soltage has deployed over $1B into clean energy assets across the US since its founding in 2005.
SVOLT Energy Technology Co., a leading EV battery manufacturer, held a B Round Financing Transaction Ceremony in Changzhou, Jiangsu on July 28. Following the completion of A Round Financing of RMB 3.5 billion ($538 million) at the end of February, the company rapidly closed this third round of market-based equity funding, raising a total amount of RMB 10.28 billion ($1.58 billion).
Last month also saw Longroad Energy, a US-based renewable energy developer, owner and operator, complete term financing for Sun Streams 2, its 200 MWdc solar project in Maricopa County, Arizona. Longroad owns 100 percent of the project after acquiring it in early 2021 from First Solar, the original developer.