Energy Costs Down, Woodworking Efficiency Up with Mink Claw Vacuum Pumps

Fritz Becker KG was established nearly 80 years ago, and has built up a good reputation as a specialist manufacturer of formed wooden components. The company operates several CNC processing machines. When their vacuum supply was due for replacement, Becker’s management chose a Busch centralized system with dry-running Mink vacuum technology. Substantial energy and maintenance cost savings were achieved within a few months of commissioning.

The company's highly modern production facility and vertically integrated manufacturing techniques have allowed Fritz Becker KG to meet practically all specifications requested by customers. Veneer finishes for the components are also manufactured in-house. After the forming process, component blanks are milled, drilled and sanded by a total of 10 different CNC machines with two machining tables each. Components may then be subjected to further processing if this is required by the customer.

CNC contouring mills used for machining formed chair components. The components are clamped by vacuum. Source: Busch Dienste GmbH

The original installation comprised four CNC machines supplied with vacuum by a total of seven dry-running rotary vane vacuum pumps. The carbon vanes of these vacuum pumps required replacement once or twice a year, resulting in considerable expenditure for maintenance and new vanes. Technical Director Mario Heiming and Maintenance Manager Jörg Becker wished to minimize these costs. In 2007 two additional CNC milling machines had been installed, both equipped with two modern Busch Mink claw vacuum pumps. These vacuum pumps proved to be extremely reliable, and operated in a three-shift system with almost no maintenance.

Busch's Expertise in Centralized Vacuum Results in Lower Maintenance Costs
Busch Mink claw vacuum technology specialists were consequently contacted, and an offer for the replacement of the existing seven rotary vane vacuum pumps was requested. Busch recommended a centralized vacuum system with four Mink claw vacuum pumps to supply the four CNC machines. The Becker managers were initially sceptical, as the maximum theoretical pumping speed of the four Mink claw vacuum pumps was lower than the output of the existing seven rotary vane vacuum pumps. It was nevertheless decided to install the Busch vacuum system, and commissioning was completed in August 2015. The results were impressive: despite the lower nominal pumping speed, the new system outperformed the old rotary vane vacuum pumps by a considerable margin – whilst reducing energy consumption by nearly 40%. The contact-free operating principle of the new system prevents wear, and ensures pumping speeds will remain consistently high throughout the lifetime of the system.

On the basis of this positive experience, it was decided to integrate an additional two Mink claw vacuum pumps into the centralized system. This upgrade allows the system to supply a total of six large CNC machines centrally with vacuum. Despite the additional load, the vacuum pumps do not run continuously. As the vacuum system has sufficient reserves, over the course of time several small machines for processing, handling and clamping operations have been added to the vacuum network. The removal of the decentralized vacuum pumps previously used by these machines has resulted in further reductions in energy costs.

Technical director Mario Heiming has calculated the anticipated reduction in energy requirements per year, and has determined that a total of 200,000 kW/h will be saved.

Not included in this calculation are maintenance savings. The replacement of expensive carbon vanes is no longer required, so no costs for parts, labour or production downtime are incurred.

The Becker managers are extremely satisfied with the decision to install a Busch centralized vacuum system with Mink claw vacuum pumps.

About Fritz Becker KG
In 1936 Fritz Becker founded a company to produce plywood panels in Brakel, North Rhine-Westphalia. The production of formed wooden parts commenced in 1967, and CNC machines were first used to cut formed components in 1989. The company now employs nearly 300 staff at the Brakel site, and manufactures mainly components for the furniture industry. Most of these are parts for chairs and other items of furniture, which will later be processed by customers in Europe, Japan and Australia. Other customers for Becker products include interior decoration specialists and furnishing contractors.

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