Discover five types of innovations that are helping manufacturers to drive efficiency, reduce costs, unlock operational potential and deliver state-of-the-art production.
Few manufacturers will have known an environment like the one in which they are operating today. Rising energy expenses, flexible working requirements, supply chain failures and the fluctuating cost of raw materials continue to squeeze production across the UK, challenging innovators and their teams to rethink the way their operations are set up.
But innovation doesn’t have to mean a complete overhaul of your existing processes. In fact, many small gains can be made, spanning efficiencies, cost, and sustainability, through careful selection of the right technologies, in the right places, at the right time.
The time is now — so what are those technologies and how could implementing them across your production help you to improve your business and keep your operations running?
1. Close in on net-zero with energy-saving solutions
Energy is wasted throughout the heat treatment process. Organisations capable of improving energy efficiencies stand to significantly reduce their operation’s energy costs while better meeting other directives like compliance and green targets.
To de-risk the start-up/deactivation process, and enable sites to operate more efficiently, VFE (part of the global Busch Vacuum Solutions group) has developed an effective energy-saving solution specifically designed for vacuum furnaces and autoclaves.
The system safely reduces total energy costs by removing your operation’s reliance on manual start-up/shutdown processes. As sustainability becomes a top business priority, systems such as this one, capable of delivering savings across energy consumption and operational costs, represent safe investment opportunities for sites looking to prepare, measure, and take actionable steps towards performance improvement.
“With a single unit in place, you could save an average of 159,947 kWh per annum. Across a site, those savings multiply, substantially cutting the amount of electrical power wasted.” Ian Jenner, Director of Control Systems, VFE
Related read: 3 Advantages of More Energy-efficient Vacuum Furnaces.
2. Improve efficiencies using RoMan transformers
Energy is lost at multiple other points across the heat treatment process. RoMan heating transformers further tackle this, improving efficiencies and substantially reducing energy, installation, operation and maintenance costs compared to traditional transformers.
The product’s energy-saving applications are well-documented in a case study RoMan conducted with a US industrial and aerospace heat treater. RoMan gave the manufacturer the opportunity to upgrade one of its machines as a proof of concept. In this case, the difference correlated to approximately 38 kW of savings for every hour the furnace is in use.
How did this translate into cost savings for the customer?
- As an example, there were 20 hours of furnace use on a typical day.
- This equates to 764kWh of daily savings.
- With a power billing rate of $0.10/kwh, that created $76 savings per day.
Over a year of use, just from power (kW) optimisation alone, the furnace will save almost $28,000. Further savings come from decreased peak demand and power factor charges.
3. Become more self-sufficient with medical waste autoclaves
Self-sufficiency and efficiency go hand-in-hand. When every additional step or subcontractor involved in a process has the potential to create new inefficiencies, the more ownership an organisation can take over its operations and the more efficiently it can operate.
The installation of Medical waste processing autoclaves or rotoclaves gives healthcare organisations the ability to streamline medical waste disposal while staying firmly within the realms of compliance, improving efficiencies and minimising the impact their waste streams have on the environment.
Akarmak’s autoclaves and rotoclaves are widely used and among the most dependable autoclave and rotoclave models available to the market. Coupled with their low maintenance requirements and long life expectancy (20+ years), this equipment can be relied upon to operate effectively and cost-efficiently in accordance with your long-term business roadmap.
4. Maximise output using electron-beam welders
As a core manufacturing process, any opportunity to upgrade a line’s welding capabilities has the potential to increase efficiencies, maximise output and deliver superior products.
Electron-beam (EB) welding uses minimal heat input combined with low distortion to create finely machined and hardened workpieces that can be welded as the last operation. This saves additional processes such as straightening of warp or grinding (usually necessary after welding) and contributes to the production of higher-quality finished parts.
VFE is in partnership with market leaders Probeam for the supply, installation, service, calibration and aftercare of EB welding machines. This includes EB generator maintenance, EB chamber maintenance, general maintenance, EB technology, machine calibration, training and retrofit solutions.
5. Take back control with computerised management systems
To maximise uptime and scale production, manufacturers are investing in computerised control systems capable of streamlining process management across their site(s).
Generally speaking, control systems give operators the means to optimise furnace or autoclave performance across their sites by tracking availability, productivity and total performance in real-time and displaying the information in an easily accessible dashboard.
VFE’s management and control systems are designed to work alongside your existing systems for smooth installation and minimal disruption to operations. As well as integrating with our Remote Monitoring System and a wide variety of other production management software, they are fully networkable on standard Windows PCs and servers with a full offline cycle profile editor and viewer keeping your vacuum furnaces and autoclave ovens in production.
The software can also be integrated to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems for work scheduling capabilities, to improve the day-to-day management of your operations.
The importance of manufacturing innovation
In today’s environment, the importance of manufacturing innovation can’t be overstated. Fortunately, advancements in process equipment and other technologies are creating new opportunities for cutting-edge manufacturers to drive improvements across their operations.
To create more value for our customers during and post-pandemic, VFE has invested in the development of several new manufacturing technologies explored above, each designed with the specific aim of reducing costs and unlocking new efficiencies for our customers.
Now, as part of the global Busch family of vacuum specialists, our future potential for research and development into new innovative solutions has grown significantly.
Choosing a supplier like VFE, who can single-handedly innovate your production line and manage all your team’s servicing and aftercare requirements, will help you to develop industry-leading systems that reduce risk, improve resilience, minimise costs, and continually improve business output, far into the future.
Which of these solutions could help you to innovate your operations?
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For more information about the solutions discussed in this article, download our newest guide, ‘5 Technology Innovations to Advance Your Manufacturing Operations’.