Intelligent, digital control system according to energy efficiency criteria

Will machines soon save energy on their own?

Automatic plant control with EnEffReg

EnEffReg® makes self-regulation possible. Together with users from Bayer, Daimler and thyssenkrupp Steel Europe, ÖKOTEC and Fraunhofer IPK have developed a novel system that automatically makes the operation of plants more energy efficient.

The energy efficiency of machines and plants is becoming increasingly important as an economic and ecological factor. In this context, companies cannot only rely on the acquisition of new technology. It is also important to ensure the most energy-efficient operation possible for existing plants. Until now, their operators have only been able to approximate the optimum settings on the basis of their experience.

Application partners achieve considerable energy savings

This is where EnEffReg® comes in: an intelligent digital control system that automatically regulates plant operation according to energy efficiency criteria. In a joint project funded for three years by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, the research partners ÖKOTEC and Fraunhofer IPK succeeded in confirming the feasibility of the EnEffReg® approach. In the process, they worked closely with the application partners Bayer, Daimler and thyssenkrupp Steel Europe and were able to achieve in some cases considerable energy savings on their behalf.

The pilot project focused on supply systems that provide cooling, heating or fresh air for production and laboratory environments. These systems account for a large share of the companies’ total energy consumption, and even small percentage improvements can result in enormous savings. Depending on the plant and area, savings of 10 to 30 percent could be achieved in this way. These results should be easily transferable to other plants in the future.

Control is based on the key performance methodology

The control of the plants is based on the energy efficiency software EnEffCo© and on a key figure methodology developed with the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. During operation, EnEffReg® reads extensive measurement data from a system and thus learns the behavior of the plants with regard to their efficiency. This allows networked subsystems to be readjusted and changes to be taken into account in a self-learning manner. Prof. Dr. Jörg Krüger, head of the Automation Technology business unit at Fraunhofer IPK, explains: “In the EnEffReg® project, we wanted to regulate energy efficiency in a targeted manner. To do this, we need not only measurement, but also control within a closed control loop. In this way, we go one step further than previous approaches and thus achieve a higher level of performance. In the course of the joint project, novel methods for visualizing the energy efficiency factors of machines were also developed.

The results of the EnEffReg® project will be presented at a final conference on September 25, 2019 at the Produktionstechnisches Zentrum Berlin. Building on the project results, the company ÖKOTEC now wants to further develop the software to market maturity. Together with Fraunhofer IPK, questions regarding artificial intelligence methods and the standardization of interfaces will also be researched in the coming years.

More information

The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK conducts applied research and development for the entire range of industrial tasks – from product development to the production process and recycling of products to the design and management of factory operations. The institute also attaches particular importance to making production technology solutions applicable beyond the industrial sector, for example in the fields of transport and safety. www.ipk.fraunhofer.de

Funding code: 03ET1313A-E.

Your contact

Knut Grabowski Team Energieeffizienz-Controlling

Knut Grabowski

Head of EnEffCo® Research & Development

Gregor Thiele

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter

Image: Spraying system fan cooling tower, © ÖKOTEC Energiemanagement GmbH