Close to nature, efficient in production
The agricultural machinery company Fendt is close to nature with its products. That is why the manufacturer is also committed to protecting and preserving it. Sustainability in its own production is a central component of this. It is constantly being improved with comprehensive energy management, supported by the solution from econ solutions.
When it comes to energy generation and energy consumption in production, Fendt relies on four building blocks: measurement, avoidance, reduction and substitution. For a long time, measurements were carried out manually and the data was recorded and analyzed in Excel. "We had a lot of data, but little transparency," explains Markus Lihs, environmental and energy specialist at AGCO, Fendt's parent company. For more transparency, a professional tool was needed that would enable the automated recording and evaluation of energy-relevant data.
In a pilot project, the energy team analyzed and evaluated several energy management systems from well-known manufacturers with the support of two Bachelor's and one Master's student and their Master's thesis "Implementation of energy management software". These were used at the main site in Marktoberdorf, where the development and production of Fendt tractors is located, as well as in Asbach-Bäumenheim, where the cabs and hoods for a large part of the Group are manufactured. The result of the test phase: the solution from econ solutions offers the best price-performance ratio and the best prospects of success for sustainably effective energy management.
In terms of measurement technology, Fendt first integrated the control-relevant meters into the econ system, and the company now records the entire energy consumption at both sites, including branch offices, with around 540 measuring points. In addition to the scope, the depth of measurement has also been successively expanded; in some areas it now extends down to machines with a consumption of 1kWh. Meters and sensors that were already in place continue to be used, as the econ system allows the connection of a wide variety of measuring devices regardless of manufacturer. Fendt uses the econ sens3 energy and power meter for newly created measuring points. It is small and, thanks to several interfaces, can also be installed quickly and without any interruption in existing systems.
Connection of the plant and building management system
The building management system (BMS) and the "Fendt View" system technology were connected via the econ connect software interfaces via OPC and BACnet. In some cases, new interfaces had to be created by the BMS for this, with econ coordinating with the relevant providers.
Numerous other data flows from the plant and building management system into the econ4 energy management software, including the temperature of the systems and outside air, humidity, volume flows, lighting times and control signals from the conveyor belt. From these and the values from the measuring devices, the software creates numerous evaluations and key figures in a comprehensive reporting system - including the key figure for Fendt, the energy consumption per tractor produced.
Fendt has already been able to significantly improve this key figure through a series of efficiency measures: For example, the evaluations revealed that the regenerative afterburning system for exhaust gas aftertreatment was also heated during the production-free night hours. Fendt was able to easily adjust the heating times and thereby save energy.
In addition, Fendt transmits the production time, auxiliary time, set-up time and downtime as well as the time for running-in parts to econ for each week. econ4 calculates the energy consumption in the respective phases. This showed, for example, that a machine for gear production still consumes 20kWh during downtime, i.e. in standby mode. However, it can also be switched off in such a way that it manages with 3kWh without any disadvantages. With twenty machines, this results in a not insignificant efficiency gain. "So that we can also quantify the savings in euros, we have stored prices for electricity, heat, etc. prices," reports Markus Lihs.
Basis for management decisions
The energy team also compares the consumption of newer and older generation machines of the same type to determine their payback period. The data is also used to calculate the total cost of ownership (TCO) of each machine - an excellent basis for investment decisions.
The energy team has defined various limit values in econ4 in order to immediately identify power peaks or unusually high consumption during operation and, if possible, to rectify or at least reduce them. If a value is reached, the relevant plant manager receives a notification by email. "With econ, we also have the basis for truly intelligent peak load management - we want to implement this soon," says Markus Lihs.
People as a success factor
The major consumers at Fendt are in gear production, in the transmission plant and in the tractor factory, here it is mainly the paint shop. The operators of the respective machines and systems have so far been the only users of the econ system apart from the energy team. "Their behavior is crucial for the energy consumption of the machines and systems. That is why the other machine operators are also gradually being trained for the econ system. If more users work with it, we can do a lot more with econ," says Markus Lihs.
Because people play a central role in energy management, company-wide communication on energy issues is also extremely important. Monthly energy reports inform the management and senior positions right down to the foremen about the key figures, consumption and measures. "We have been producing such reports from the very beginning, but with econ it is now much quicker and easier. It would be a real shame to just use the system for measurement technology," adds Lihs. In order to sensitize the entire workforce to energy consumption and share in the successes, the energy topics are also included in the employee newsletter and on screensavers.
All employees are encouraged to contribute energy-saving ideas via the suggestion scheme. If the plant supervisor gives the green light for feasibility, the suggestion is implemented. With the help of the econ system, the effect achieved can be determined immediately. If the effect is positive and helps to increase energy efficiency, the person who submitted the idea can look forward to a bonus payment.
Energy consumption decoupled from production volume
With various measures, Fendt was able to save 900,000 kWh of energy at both its Marktoberdorf and Bäumenheim sites in 2019 alone. The company also succeeded in decoupling energy consumption from the increase in production: in 2019, production in Marktoberdorf required over 200 kWh less per tractor than in the previous year. "With econ, we can prove this in detail. The system is like a navigation device on our sustainability journey: it shows us how far we have already come and the most sensible way to move forward," explains Markus Lihs.