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A recipe to save energy and reduce carbon emissions

A recipe to save energy and reduce carbon emissions

Wednesday, 27 de December de 2017

How the Fiat Automotive Plant reduced its energy consumption by half with LED plates and an eye on sustainability

“How many people are needed to change a light bulb?” – the joke is old, but certainly the complexity of the answer in a home or office is one. However, in an automobile plant that almost never stops, the answer is a bit more complicated, but worth it nevertheless. From 2014 until now, the Bodywork Operative Unit of the Fiat Automotive Plant in the city of Betim (MG) in Brazil, has changed 75% of the old fluorescent light bulbs for LED plates. This exchange alone has already cut in half electricity costs in the warehouse. And once the rest of the bulbs are replaced (by September 2018), savings will exceed 66%. This is a pilot project, suggested by the staff, and it doesn’t stop there.

The unit has not reached the 100% mark for the replacements because the task is only possible during the few moments when production pauses. In addition, the unit had no less than 23,850 fluorescent lamps and everything needs to follow a lighting project made in partnership with Philips. Once finished, there will be 14 thousand LED lamps in place. It’s more expensive for sure, but it has a much longer shelf life (50,000 hours versus 7,000 hours for the fluorescent ones). In addition, each LED lamp consumes 45 watts (25 less than fluorescent ones), and “because it is more efficient at transforming electricity into light, each LED lamp replaces about two of the fluorescent ones,” says analyst Paulo Henrique Caldeira Carneiro, from Bodywork Production Engineering, one of the people responsible for the initiative. All this means that, even though it’s more expensive, it turns out to be two times cheaper. And we didn’t even factor in the savings with maintenance, which is absurd (12.6 times lower!). In the end, “for every R$ 1 invested (US$ 0.30), R$ 1.66 is recovered (US$ 0.50),” according to Isaac Cesar de Sousa Lino, machine operator and one of the creators.

Okay, so we have the 66% savings just by switching the old fixtures to LED. But we’re not just talking about money. Consuming this much less electricity also means emitting far less carbon in the atmosphere, which contributes to the fight against global warming. Not to mention the emissions from trucks carrying more than 2,500 fluorescent lamps changed every month. This disposal ceases to exist with the adoption of LED technology. We also did not factor in the recycling emissions from that bunch of glass with chemicals inside.

As you have seen, the advantages are many. But I said at the beginning that things did not stop there, remember? It so happens that these new bulbs have more than LED technology in them. They also have a smart reactor with the Dali communication protocol, which allows the connection between the lamp reactors, the presence and brightness sensors, and the supervisory software through an Ethernet port. The presence and luminosity sensors, as the name suggests, identify the natural luminosity of the place (night and stormy days are very different from a sunny day on semitransparent panels, right?) or if someone is working nearby. If the sensors detect someone in the area, an electronic mechanism automatically adjusts the brightness of the lamps (in one word: dimmable), so that the working environment is always well lit, but with no waste. And as for those 66% savings? They were not counting on it!

FCA also has an initiative called “Manufacturing 2020”, which started earlier this year and, in short, aims at indicating the way towards innovation and industry 4.0 for industrial processes. The evolution consists of the use of various technological elements, such as advanced robotics, simulation, internet of things, additive manufacturing, augmented reality, cloud computing, analytical and cognitive systems. In other words, “our processes can be reinvented, seeking new concept opportunities with low cost. It’s a culture change focused on quality for the customer at the end”, says Marcelo Lima, FCA’s Manufacturing Engineer for Latin America. “Manufacturing 2020 has a cross-cutting and collaborative laboratory to test new ideas that have the potential for implementation. Here we can risk, make mistakes and take corrective action before going into the manufacturing processes.”

And what does this initiative have to do with LED bulbs? This is where “doing more with less” comes in: the Manufacturing 2020 team took the initiative of the bodywork staff to study the implementation feasibility. To do this, they created a concept test focused on the very dimerization. “We always work to minimize our losses,” says Lima. “Within some processes like presses and painting, the biggest loss is in that part of the electric power. So, what we want is to implement intelligent lighting, which is nothing more than having all the lamps in the industry be LED and controlled by the photovoltaic sensor”, he says. “With proof of concept, we spread the idea to all the sectors that visit the LAB, where we plan, validate and implement the technology within a pilot area, and then expand it to other workshops and offices”, he explains.

The 4.0 version of the Industrial Revolution is here to stay. Let there be intelligent light! And let’s welcome all the other technologies that help preserve the planet as they modernize the productive processes.

 

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