THE PLASTICS MANUFACTURING GUIDE TO INJECTION MOLDING PROCESSES AND HOW ENERGY SAVING METHODS CAN REDUCE AN INDUSTRIAL FACILITY’S ENERGY CONSUMPTION THROUGH INCENTIVES AND REBATES
Plastic injection molding is a flexible process that allows manufacturers to mass-produce various types of high-quality plastic products and parts. The flexibility of these machines is so robust that most industrial sectors rely on some form of plastic injection molding application in their final product. However, plastic injection molding machines are energy-dense applications that cost facilities a lot of money on their monthly electric bills, which is why manufacturers need to pursue energy-efficient solutions.
Some manufacturers might be hesitant to explore methods for reducing energy consumption. A common reason is that implementing energy-saving measures may affect production output and quality. Other manufacturers have such lean capital constraints that any investment not directly correlated with increasing output today isn’t considered.
Energy efficiency opportunities are beneficial, but manufacturers know upgrading operations will be costly. However, incentives and rebates are available to manufacturers through local utility companies to identify and facilitate energy-saving opportunities that do not hinder operations.
Taking advantage of the opportunities provided by utility companies goes beyond increasing energy efficiency. Manufacturers can also gain the upper hand over competitors by implementing available incentives and rebates, allowing for the reallocation of savings to improve other operational aspects.
With these programs, manufacturers can trust that the implemented measures have known impacts on their costs. Projects eligible for a rebate or incentive either have proved energy savings existed or the project has been implemented enough that the project itself is pre-proven. These utility programs have rules and guidelines to ensure that projects receiving incentives have a baseline of impact at each facility that implements them.
Energy Consumption in Plastic Injection Molding and the Importance of Utility Incentives
While lighting and compressed air usually receive more attention in plastic injection molding processes, energy dominates the consumption spectrum. Energy efficiency is paramount in the competitive plastic injection molding industry and can significantly reduce energy consumption.
The first step for manufacturers in reducing energy consumption is calculating electricity costs. Costs should involve a fully loaded rate, including transmission costs, taxes, and riders, rather than relying solely on the base rate.
Many utility companies offer incentives and rebates for energy reduction efforts. Moreover, in some cases, utility companies increase energy costs if manufacturers fail to make energy-efficient improvements within their facilities, limiting facility growth.
Implementing utility incentives and rebates with the help of an energy efficiency consultant is imperative for overcoming these constraints and expanding plastic injection molding operations to become competitive in the industry.
How to Save Energy with Plastic Injection Molding Machines
Several opportunities from utility companies are available to plastic manufacturers looking to save energy within their plastic injection molding facilities. Awareness of pragmatic solutions and working with an energy efficiency consultant empowers manufacturers to determine suitable energy-saving methods and programs for their plastic injection molding machines.
Considering the Whole-Life Cost of Plastic Injection Molding Machines
When investing in plastic injection molding machines, it’s essential to prioritize the whole-life cost over the initial purchase cost. New generation machines boast improved energy efficiency, potentially reducing product costs by over 3 percent.
Right-Sizing Plastic Injection Molding Machines for Efficiency
Efficiency peaks near a machine’s design load; decreasing operating conditions that deviate from the original design will increase energy consumption. Selecting the correct size machine for plastic injection molding is crucial. Large plastic injection molding machines operating at partial load are less efficient than smaller machines operating at full load.
Moving Toward All-Electric Plastic Injection Molding Machines
There are many benefits for manufacturers to move toward 100 percent electric plastic injection molding machines. The machines receive power from direct electricity, eliminating the need for hydraulic oil. All-electric power also enables plastic injection molding machines to perform more operations through electric servos, reducing cycle times to increase energy savings. Additionally, the startup time for electric plastic injection molding machines is lower — further contributing to energy efficiency.
Installing Insulation Jackets for Plastic Injection Molding Machines
Insulation jackets are custom thermal insulated blankets that cover the barrels of plastic injection molding machines. The jackets work by trapping warm air inside, minimizing heat loss, and decreasing the energy needed to maintain necessary high temperatures.
Using VSDs and VFDs to Save Energy with Plastic Injection Molding Machines
Electric motors play a crucial yet costly role in the production of plastics. However, manufacturers can save energy using variable speed drives (VSDs) and variable frequency drives (VFDs), as the drives decrease unnecessary power consumption by controlling the speed of electric motors.
Leveraging Smart Manufacturing to Optimize Plastic Injection Molding Machines
Smart manufacturing enhances plastic injection molding processes through automation and identifying non-value-added activities that extend cycle time. The smart software also schedules and tracks preventative maintenance cycles. Applications can turn off components when a machine isn’t needed, maintain lower temperatures when not running a product, or be set to pre-engage to bring a machine online before use if there is a shift change or product mix change. The applications of Smart Manufacturing through IOT technologies are endless.
Combating Idle Energy Draining from Plastic Injection Molding Machines
Plastic injection molding machines consume significant energy even when idling. Implementing practical strategies such as switching off heaters and ancillaries between runs minimizes energy consumption.
Speeding Up Tool Changes and Optimizing Cooling Systems for Plastic Injection Molding Machines
Rapid tool setups reduce energy consumption during tool changes, and optimizing cooling systems reduces plastic injection molding machines’ cycle times and energy usage. Planning tool changes into production schedules and regularly checking and treating cooling water maximize energy efficiency.
Committing to Increasing the Energy Efficiency of Plastic Injection Molding Machines
One of the best energy efficiency strategies manufacturers can implement in their plastic injection molding operations is dedication to best practices and continuing with new energy-saving measures. Facilities never become fully energy-efficient. It’s an ongoing process in which manufacturers must stay diligent. Working with an energy efficiency consultant helps manufacturers stay on track through analysis, training, the latest industry insights, and utility programs’ incentives and rebate updates.
Contact APenergy, the Energy Efficiency Experts of Plastic Injection Molding, Today
APenergy has over 35 years of experience working with industrial plastics manufacturers to identify areas of inefficiency and make data-driven decisions to reduce energy consumption and costs. By utilizing utility incentives and rebate programs for plastic injection molding machines, including insulation jackets, VSDs, VFDs, and other practical energy-saving solutions, APenergy guides manufacturers toward energy efficiency.
Through our incentive management service, APenergy can help companies set energy-saving goals, track progress, and achieve favorable ROIs. Our expert team is ready to assist companies with energy-efficient solutions. For more information, contact the APenergy team, the leading energy efficiency consultants, at 740-862-4112 or message us.