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Solarsoft system monitors energy use on all-electric presses

By: Rhoda Miel

April 6, 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. (April 6, 11 a.m. ET) — For years, the makers of all-electric injection molding presses have told molders that they are more efficient. Solarsoft Business Systems now has a monitoring system in place that can not only track the energy use on new presses but the entire press fleet and let molders know for certain where their energy dollars are going.

“We want to help manufacturers improve efficiency,” said Andy Amalfitano general manager of Toronto-based Solarsoft’s manufacturing execution and intelligence division, in an interview at NPE2012 in Orlando. “You need to know what your real energy use is to control it. Without that data, you’re just running blind.”

The Solarsoft Mattec MES monitoring system can be retrofit onto existing systems and track the exact energy usage of each press throughout its day.

With that information, companies can determine which presses are more efficient, how to get the most out of the press, the exact savings of an all-electric machine next to a comparable hydraulic press and even how settings in the machine impact energy costs.

“Here in the U.S., the energy companies charge you based on your peak energy use during the day, so if you start up all your presses at the same time, they’ll charge you for the peak energy used during startup,” Amalfitano said.

One of Solarsoft’s clients has noted that he saw his energy use at a European operation climb by $1 million per year, but had no way to track if that increase was due to sheer energy costs climbing overall, or because the plant was running inefficiently.

Staggering press start-up can affect peak usage, but with the energy data on hand, companies can also determine the costs of running a part on third shift rather than first shift.

The software can also help companies figure out the energy use per part, just as they can now calculate the resin costs in each part, he said. Using that information can help them determine the number of cavities in a mold, or the best shot size for peak performance.

Energy use per part is also a big calculation for companies that want to track their carbon footprint – either for their own internal information or in response to requests for “green” credentials from customers.

“You’re saving money but it’s also very ecological and energy friendly,” Amalfitano said.