Growing social awareness of the energy problem (e.g. limited availability of energy resources, global warming, etc.) leads to an increasing social pressure to reduce energy consumption in as much domains as possible. One of those domains is the machine (building) sector. The demand rises here to produce machines with “Green” labels and a lower ecological footprint.
Moreover, energy prices are increasing as well. The “total cost of ownership” of a machine, which includes next to the purchase cost also the maintenance cost and operation cost, is therefore substantially influenced by the machine’s energy usage.
Both ecological and economical arguments make the energy efficiency of the machine an important and differentiating performance characteristic. This characteristic will more and more be used during sales discussions (as is already the case for consumer products like refrigerators, laundry systems, etc.)
In next machine generations, mechatronically inspired concepts will therefore be needed to reduce the ecological footprint of machines without losing machine performance. However, to be able to improve energy efficiency of machines, manufacturers will have to:
- understand where energy is being consumed or lost and
- reduce losses by selecting the optimal adaptations to the design and to the machine parameters.
This means that, in order to decrease the ecological impact of a machine, manufacturers will have to start taking energy efficiency features into account during the design cycle of the machine (or during redesign of an existing machine). In other words, the machine design process should move to a new paradigm, by going from a purely performance and capacity driven approach to a design approach that uses energy efficiency as a key parameter. This also implies that an optimisation of the machine design should take efficiency into account next to performance and capacity. Such a new design paradigm is expected to lead to substantial energy savings (up to an amount of of 30 %) during the machines’ lifecycles.
To provide a solution to the above detailed needs, ESTOMAD developed (1) methodologies and (2) tools to assist the manufacturer during this new design process. More specifically, this meant:
- The development of methodologies and concepts to model, simulate and analyze energy flows and losses throughout the whole machine, both for (a) the design of new machines, and (b) the analysis of existing machines (while considering possible improvements).
- The embedding of the developed methodologies in existing ICT tools for design, modeling and simulation. Such tools traditionally model the functional behavior of a machine. Enhancing them with the ability to model and simulate energy flows as well, allows the manufacturer to balance and optimize machine performance and energy efficiency in the same simulation environment. It allows to integrate efficiency considerations fluently as a part of the whole design process. The modeling and simulation tool LMS Imagine.Lab AMESim was used in this project as a development platform.