Editorial: Efficiency Redefined - New Requirements for Production Processes Call for new Approaches to Efficiency

Editorial: Efficiency Redefined - New Requirements for Production Processes Call for new Approaches to Efficiency

Vacuum plays a key role in many production and operational processes. It often has a direct impact on productivity and the quality of the products. Selecting the right vacuum components is not the only factor that determines optimum process stability, the best possible availability and the highest possible level of economic efficiency. Perfectly coordinating the vacuum system with the defined processes is also crucial.

The cost of electricity makes up a substantial part of total costs in many industries. At the same time, most countries are seeing a steady rise in electricity prices. As a significant share of electricity is still generated by burning fossil fuels, power consumption also plays a crucial role when calculating the carbon footprint. So there are many good economic and environmental reasons to minimize the consumption of electricity. Even companies with fewer legal requirements feel compelled to keep an eye on energy aspects so they can also remain competitive in time of globalization.

Energy consumption and business success

The majority of industrial processes would be completely impossible without electrical energy. So when it comes to saving electricity costs and reducing the carbon footprint, efficient use of this energy is a top priority. It directly contributes to a company's success and – depending on the industry and process – it can be a decisive factor between survival and failure. Extensive optimization of energy efficiency requires basic analysis of the overall process. Factors that reduce energy consumption also tend to generally optimize processes. A large share of the efficiency gains is often generated by more streamlined and straightforward processes that can also lead to significant savings beyond the electricity bill. At the same time, the stability and availability of the process increases, as does the generated output.

This is also in line with the basic thinking of ISO standard 50001, which supports setting up systematic energy management. Its declared objective is to reduce energy costs while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other ecological effects of energy consumption. Energy management is expected to make a considerable contribution to environmental and climate protection in this way.

Keeping an eye on all aspects

The systematic approach requires that all relevant factors are taken into account. In vacuum generation, in addition to selecting the optimum vacuum pump, other aspects also come into play, in particular, if certification of energy management according to ISO 50001 is desired or required. Which heat and noise emissions are acceptable? Can recuperated heat be used in a practical way? Is central vacuum supply possible or perhaps even necessary?

It is important to keep an eye on overall efficiency throughout the whole life cycle. Additional factors also come into play here: planning and installation overhead, life cycle, reliability, the frequency of repairs, operating and training overhead, support from manufacturers and suppliers, expandability, operating fluids and their disposal, as well as maintenance overhead including downtime. For example, a vacuum supply that consists of several vacuum pumps in a separate room facilitates convenient maintenance during ongoing operation without restricting production and without maintenance work in hygienic areas.

Optimizing efficiency in a way that takes all of these aspects into account can bring significant benefits that also affect the company balance sheet. It is therefore worth analyzing vacuum generation in all its complexity and including renowned vacuum experts in the process.

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