Development of MiELCAST Energy Usage Optimization System for Foundries:Reduces Waste and Helps Conserve Energy during Operation
June 20, 2011
Chubu Electric Power Co.,Inc.
Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. (President & Director: Akihisa Mizuno; Head office: 1, Higashi-shincho, Higashi-ku, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture), along with Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. (President and Representative Director: Michihiro Kitazawa; Head office: 1-11-2 Osaki, Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo) and Toenec Corporation (President: Hiroshi Ochi; Head office: 1-20-31 Sakae, Naka-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture), have developed MiELCAST, an energy usage optimization system for foundries. Toenec Corporation will provide the system from July 19.
Broadly speaking, there are three processes that happen at a foundry: melting metals in a melting furnace (induction furnace), making the molds that make castings, and pouring molten metal into the molds. After these processes are complete, the products (castings) are removed from the molds and shipped. Most of the energy is used to melt metals during the melting process and to keep the temperature high so the metal will not cool and harden before the entire amount is poured. To reduce energy waste, it is necessary to melt just the right amount of metal for the variety and quantity of castings and to create a schedule that coordinates the timing of the melting and molding processes so that operations are efficient.
In actual practice, however, foundries typically produce a large variety of products, and production plans change daily. As a result, operations are very complex, with multiple melting furnaces and a need to switch mold-making and pouring equipment for each type of product. This makes it difficult to create an operating schedule that reduces energy consumption.
The newly developed system automatically creates an optimal operating schedule based on daily production plans, coordinating melting and mold-making timing to limit energy waste. Moreover, the system supports initiatives to save energy in the foundry with such functions as "operation visualization" that graphically shows operating status in real time and "waste visualization" that quantitatively tracks waste by analysis and comparison of actual results to optimal operating schedule performance.
Major features of MiELCAST energy usage optimization system for foundries
(1) Automatically creates the optimal operating schedule
When a daily production plan is entered, MiELCAST automatically creates an operating schedule that minimizes energy consumption based on preset standard operating patterns. It also has a function to alert workers when the melting furnace is starting to operate, when pouring is happening, and so on based on the schedule it has created.
(2) Operation visualization
Through data communication, MiELCAST incorporates the operating status, power consumption, material supply levels and so on of the main equipment (melting furnace, mold making machine and pouring machine) and displays it graphically in real time.
(3) Waste visualization and effect visualization
For each operating status, MiELCAST can quantitatively determine the difference
between the melting furnace's actual results and results that would have occurred
if the pre-made optimal operating schedule had been used. It shows when, where
and how much waste occurred, which will raise awareness of making improvements
in the foundry.
Also, after the foundry has drafted an improvement initiative, it can check its effectiveness in advance by simulating the operating schedule, energy consumption and operating time before and after taking the initiative. As a result, the foundry can try to make continuous improvements in energy conservation and productivity.