Reducing energy consumption in industrial production without affecting quality or performance, and even improving it: this is a challenge that METRON is up to, with its smart energy management and optimisation platform, METRON-Factory®. One of its clients, the main producer in France of hollow container glass for the pharmaceutical industry, is as of today taking full advantage of this unique device.
An energy-consuming industrial process
Turning sand into glass requires heat … lots of heat! In the two furnaces of this French factory, the temperature can reach 1,500°C. In order to produce this kind of heat, the glass manufacturer uses two different sources: electrical heaters and gas burners. Consequence: high energy bills which has a direct impact on production costs. In order to optimise the energy performance of its furnaces, the company had to understand the processes and their consumption a whole lot better. The solution? It went to find it at METRON, an innovative player in energy transition, capable of coming up with energy optimisation vectors that were previously inaccessible!
A better understanding for a good optimisation
In order to optimise, you have to understand. METRON therefore started by numbering two years’ worth of data on its platform. This involved various millions of individual pieces of data, aware that 1,000 pieces are delivered on average per second and per furnace (fusion parameters, feeding, hot and cold extremes, temperatures in different parts of the furnace, the percentage of cullet used to favour vitrification, etc.).
Armed with an understanding of how the devices behave, depending on the different conditions of use and over 150 variables all influencing production, METRON then modelled the furnaces and set up real numerical matchings. Once the variables had been classified by order of influence on electricity and gas consumption, thousands of different scenarios were brought into play based on these numerical matchings. As a result of these simulations, 3 variables to act on were identified:
- The percentage of cullet in the blend of raw materials burnt in the furnace
- The additional electricity used for the heating element
- Gas input to heat the burner
Savings on your electricity bill, and much more besides…
By taking these elements into account and determining the best parameters for each furnace, it was able to save 10.2 GWh in electricity and gas, which is the equivalent of the annual consumption of 2,000 households. And if we talk about lower energy consumption, we are also talking about significant financial savings, around € 250,000 per year; and we should not forget the consequent reduction in CO2 emissions, calculated at 1,973 tons a year!
The benefits provided by METRON-Factory® do not stop there. The furnace consumption model created also takes the production context into account, together with the cullet stock available and energy prices on a day-to-day basis. The platform provides daily suggestions with an explanation, to optimise the adjustment of the furnaces in real time depending on production targets. It can therefore better control the manufacturing process, which has enabled the company to improve the homogeneity and quality of its products even further.
“We really appreciate the ongoing collaboration between the energy manager at our plant, the furnace operators and the METRON project manager. On-site meetings meant that our partner’s teams were able to discuss and fully understand the technical aspects of the procedures of our machines, which in turn meant they were able to calibrate the feasibility and coherence of the optimal dosage of gas and electricity in terms of time” said Pascal R., Energy Manager.