The latest developments show the basic direction which machine tool manufacturers and automation specialists must take with their customers from the automotive industry: they need flexibility, speed and, not least, efficiency. “All major motor vehicle manufacturers and their component suppliers have now integrated the topic of energy efficiency in functional specifications for machines and system orders,” said Prof. Abele, whose Institute has long been examining questions relating to the evaluation of machine tool efficiency. According to Abele, “comparability is still a problem since companies do not normally purchase standard machines. Instead, production systems are offered as an alternative with a very different configuration.” Energy consumption can therefore only be evaluated together with all other factors such as the essential production time, the set-up time or investment costs.
Prof. Abele points out another problem: responsibility for investment costs and energy costs are often separated in companies. “Whereas purchasing managers want to buy as cheaply as possible, the operator is primarily interested in low operating costs and, thus, energy costs”. Grob-Werke has already reacted to precisely this aspect, as explained by chairman German Wankmiller: “We offer three packages containing different energy efficiency measures which are distinguished by the gradation of their potential savings, but are also correspondingly associated with higher investment costs.” Entry is mainly via an inexpensive software package.
Martin Winterstein stressed that FFG-Werke already reacted to tougher energy efficiency requirements years ago: “Reductions in consumption and emissions have long been firmly prescribed in our company’s development process.” Energy recovery and routines to automatically switch off units have long been standard. One recent development is the ‘Energy Monitor’ software module. “This enables us to create transparency about consumptions in a short space of time; we can then use it as a basis to optimise processes and work procedures,” emphasised Winterstein.