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How to optimize energy usage on a flow wrapper

By putting a variable frequency drive on a crucial vacuum pump and connecting electric power meters to the HMI by way of the controller, ACMA developed a “green machine.”

Through a Modbus TCP connection to the controller, all energy parameters are displayed on the HMI.
Through a Modbus TCP connection to the controller, all energy parameters are displayed on the HMI.

The SP2 NG flow wrapper from Italy’s ACMA uses up to 30% less energy than its predecessor thanks to the clever use of a variable-frequency drive on its main vacuum pump.

Development of the machine emerged from a thorough inspection and analysis by a group of experts from Schneider Electric. The results of their energy consumption analysis were studied jointly with the team at ACMA, and a report was prepared on possible energy-saving measures.

The analysis revealed that the greatest potential for savings was in the conveyor belt on which product is carried through the film wrapping station. This belt uses vacuum suction to hold product—frequently candy or cookies or crackers—in place. The operation of the vacuum pump was unnecessarily energy-intensive because the vacuum power level was permanently set for the most difficult product shapes to hold down. In actual practice, of course, many product shapes are not so difficult to hold down and don’t require so much vacuum power. So the Schneider Electric/ACMA analysts asked themselves what might be done to factor in this variability and thereby cut energy consumption and energy costs.

The answer: a Schneider Electric Altivar variable frequency converter that makes it possible to dial back the vacuum power level when the product in production permits it. “Working together with Schneider Electric, we created a machine that uses up to 30% less energy compared to traditional machines,” says ACMA commercial director Giuseppe Marcante.

The machine developers didn’t stop there, either. They also found a way to display real-time energy consumption so that operators, technicians, maintenance people, and management personnel at the end user company can see energy-relevant information on the machine’s control panel.

“All the energy use measurements are coming from a Schneider Electric power meter PM800 that is connected to the PacDrive controller via Modbus TCP,” says Matteo Stagni, business development manger for machine solutions at Schneider Electric. “It lets us store and display all the energy parameters on the HMI screen.”

In addition to the Schneider Electric PacDrive controller, which synchronizes 10 to 15 servo axes of motion depending on the specific model in the SP2 NG series, other Schneider Electric controls components on the ACMA machine include safety technology from the Preventa product line and a Magelis touch panel HMI.

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