FMTC coordinates European research on design methods for efficient machines
Machines of the future will have to consume much less energy than the current generation of machines. Flanders' MECHATRONICS Technology Centre vzw (FMTC) brought together a European consortium that will develop methods for designing energy efficient machines.
Estimates show that reductions up to 30% of the consumed energy are achievable by taking energy consumption systematically into account as a parameter during the machine design.
The developed methods will support European machine manufacturers in constructing machines that will be the most efficient in their kind.
Scarcity of energy, and resulting rising energy prices, lead to an increasing importance of the energy consumption cost for a production machine over its lifetime in the Total Cost of
Ownership of the machine. Moreover, societal awareness on the energy problematic increases and there is a growing pressure to consume less energy. Both economic and ecologic arguments thus lead to a demand for machines with lower energy consumption.
The energy consumption of installed machines can be incrementally reduced by punctual modifications, for example by replacing standard electric motors by high efficiency
alternatives. However, practice showed that such pragmatic solutions not always have the expected effect. Rotors of high efficiency motors for example typically have higher inertia than
those of standard electric motors. Although the efficiency during stationary operation will be better with high-efficiency motors, more energy will be consumed during start up. This energy
will be dissipated in heat during braking. As a result, overall system efficiency will reduce for applications with many start-stops. Therefore, to maximize the energy efficiency of a machine
it is important to evaluate the effect of a local modification in the machine on the energy consumption for all operational conditions.
Present-day machines often comprise a significant number of auxiliary equipment (for cooling, lubrication, compressed air, etc.), next to the components that realize the main functionality of the machine. The energy consumption of this auxiliary equipment can be substantial,
especially for machines that are often in stand-by mode, such as machine tools. To reduce the energy consumption of these types of machines, this auxiliary equipment has thus to be
taken into account in the consumption analysis. Again an approach is needed in which the energy consumption of all components during all operational conditions is considered in the
As modifications to reduce the energy consumption of a machine often have a significant impact on the machine design, it is important to take energy efficiency into account as soon
as possible as a parameter in the design process. Today, supporting software tools are already used during the design process to model, simulate and analyze the functional
behavior of the machine. Extension of these tools with capabilities for analyzing and optimizing the energy consumption will support a systematic optimization of the machine
performance and the efficiency of the machine.
FMTC brought together a European consortium that will develop such an integrated design method. Next to FMTC also the mechanical engineering department of the K.U.Leuven and
CNR-ITIA from Italy will work on the theoretical fundamentals of the methodology.
Implementation will be done by LMS International and ECEngineering from Poland starting from the LMS Imagine.Lab AMESim software environment. Industrial validation of the
developments will be done by three companies: Picanol, a manufacturer of weaving looms,
Jobs, a machine tool manufacturer and Fidia, a producer of numerical controls for machines.
This initiative was appreciated by the European Commission and received funding from the Seventh Framework program (FP7/2007-2013) under the project name ESToMad: Energy
Software Tools for Sustainable Machine Design (n°24 7982). The total budget for the 30 month project that started on February 1, 2010 amounts to 2.4 million Euro, of which 1.6
million Euro will be contributed by the Commission.
More information on the ESToMaD project can be found on the website www.estomad.org or
Program Leader Energy efficient machines
Coordinator ESToMaD project
Celestijnenlaan 300D - bus 4027
FMTC is a research organization of the leading mechatronic companies in Flanders and is an initiative of Agoria, the Belgian federation of the technological industry. FMTC helps bridging the gap between academic knowledge in mechatronics and its use in industrial applications.
To achieve its mission, FMTC uses a unique cooperation model of joint research projects.