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Latest data collection and control technology to reduce cost and carbon footprint

With energy being an increasingly large input cost to foundries and as the industry moves towards net zero, efficient use of energy by implementing best practices through benchmarking has never been more important, writes Paul Orban, director of sales at Inductotherm Europe Ltd. By automatically logging, storing, and reporting of information such as kW used, time taken, weight, temperature, kWh/t for every heat, steps can be taken to investigate opportunities for improvements and implementation of best practices to reduce energy usage and thus lower costs and reduce carbon footprints. 

Inductotherm’s Meltminder 300 Control System, part of Inductotherm’s Control Technology Tier of products, is designed to monitor melting equipment operation, provide control functions where necessary and to generate heat reports for every heat. 

The capturing of melt system data and converting it to information in the form of heat reports, trend reports and strip charts, allows in-depth analysis of what has happened during the melt cycle, how much energy has been used, what it was used for – all with time and date stamps – and, importantly, allows for comparison between heats. 

 

Data collection

Key to providing the information is data acquisition.

Data acquisition has always been a major part of Inductotherm’s Meltminder product, with the Meltminder 300 building on and extending the capabilities of the Meltminder 100 and Meltminder 200 systems.

The Meltminder 300 Control System program continuously retrieves, logs and archives data from the following devices: 

  • Power supply data from the data acquisition interface module (DAI). 
  • I/O modules distributed throughout the melt system.
  • Furnace load cells.
  • Temperature measurement instruments.

Data logging points from earlier systems can be integrated into the Meltminder 300, thus providing an upgrade path to the latest available system without the need to discard all the existing data acquisition modules, sensors and wiring.

Data logging points of a typical melting system run into the hundreds.

When the world became aware of I4.0 and IIoT, Inductotherm equipment had for decades been acquiring, logging, and sharing to connected systems melt process data.

 

In operation

  • Algorithms perform calculations on the acquired data. 
  • Display of raw data and calculated data on the HMI display. 
  • Executes user commands through the touch screen. 
  • Controls power automatically or through operator control by sending commands to the data acquisition interface module (DAI). 
  • Controls power to reach required temperature for sampling and final bath temperature.

 

Reports

Using the system default or creating customer defined reports is a key feature of the system, it is the reports that convert the collected data into information and thus provide the customer with the information required to ensure optimum working and performance.

The system generates strip chart and trend reports from continuously logged data, along with heat reports that are available to view via web-browsers and/or on foundry networks.

Reports can also highlight external factors that affect energy consumption. For example, if the furnace is on-hold power waiting for charge, or on-hold power waiting to be poured. Both scenarios will use valuable energy and should be avoided, with these events logged and reported by Meltminder, the reasons for the situation can be investigated and solutions found to avoid such hindrances.

Other Meltminder 300 functions that can be used for benchmarking to reduce energy usage are:  

  • Automatic cold start – an automatic start at a set time charge, heated to a set temperature.
  • Sintering – power adjusted continuously to follow the desired sinter profile (from refractory supplier) is accurately followed.
  • kWh/t mode – melting by counting down from a set number of kilowatts.

 

Support for the operator

It must be understood that Meltminder 300 is not a substitute for appropriate operator supervision and control of the melt process. As the Meltminder 300 is programmed based on several real time operator inputs, the operator must always verify the melt process and its operating parameters. A furnace containing molten metal must never operate unattended. However, it is a vital tool for helping a foundry to realise efficient and cost-effective melting practices.

Meltminder 300 is a powerful, flexible tool for control and for providing comprehensive melt process information. The system is increasingly being used by foundries for analysing and benchmarking melt processes, to optimise energy usage, and to make each heat repeatable. Meltminder 300 is available as part of new melt systems, as an upgrade from earlier Meltminder systems, and for installation onto existing melting systems without a Meltminder system.

Contact: Paul Orban, director of sales, Inductotherm Europe Ltd, Tel: +44 (0) 1905 795100, email: [email protected] web: www.inductotherm.co.uk