Nowadays, both the social awareness of the limited availability of energy resources and the rise of energy prices lead to a structural trend for reducing energy consumption in as many fields as possible. The total cost of ownership of a machine, which includes both the operation and the maintenance costs (OPEX) in addition to the initial investment (CAPEX), is therefore strongly impacted by the machine’s energy consumption. In this way, reducing the ecological footprint of a machine over its life cycle, with regard to its energy use and without lowering its performance, represents a huge challenge.
To this end, the overarching goal of the present project consists in providing a guideline to support machine designers for manufacturing the next generations of machines. This guideline will support manufacturers to design these machines following an innovative approach that uses energy efficiency as a key parameter instead of the performance or capacity driven traditional approach. To do so, the project will develop methodologies and tools in a two-step approach.
In the first step, methodologies still to be developed will aim (i) firstly to identify where energy losses come from within a machine (i.e. assess which components or parameter settings are responsible for these losses), (ii) secondly to reduce the losses which are identified and improve the machine design towards energy efficiency by substituting a component by a more efficient one, by evaluating different topologies (with or without energy storing elements for instance) and by optimising machine parameters and (iii) thirdly to provide facilities for a participatory designing approach between machine manufacturers and components’ suppliers.
In a second step, the methodologies to model and simulate energy flows which have been developed will be integrated within an already existing software tool. An interface for managing energy will be thereby embedded into an ICT tool platform. This energy management tool will be designed to address the overall energy balance of a system. The user-friendly platform will help designers to conceive the most energy efficient solution with regard to their application. Two case studies will be described to validate both the methodologies and the software. These are a machine tool and a weaving loom. Both machines have a high energy consumption and consist of a high number of components, subsystems and systems.
This project, which focuses on r, is funded under the Seventh Framework Programme of the European Commission (FP7), a grant funding programme, and coordinated by FMTC (Flanders Mechatronics’ Technology Centre, headquartered in Belgium). As the project is still running and its outputs are not complete yet, the technology readiness level is currently estimated to be 4 on the TRL scale, according to the scope of the seventh framework programme, which provides public grant partial funding for R&D.