As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the need to produce enough food. Production of food and beverages requires significant energy at every stage – from the farms or plantations where raw goods are produced, to the factories where they are processed, and the storage and moving of products in refrigerated units.
Because increasing energy efficiency offers important power and cost savings in the food and beverage industry, identifying areas where efficiency can be most improved is paramount.
1. Assess energy use in your facility
In order to save energy, you have to know how efficiently it is used. But in large facilities with thousands of motors and drives in operation, identifying specific potential savings is difficult. Energy appraisals such as those offered by ABB Motion Services identify how much energy is used in different areas of a facility, and even in individual components, among other data.
After an expert in energy efficiency undertakes a thorough assessment of a process, the most effective ways to implement energy efficiency measures – and thereby reduce costs – are suggested. This service also has the advantages of improving reliability and uptime.
2. Use variable speed drives and energy efficient motors to control processes that run at partial load
Applications such as fans, pumps, and conveyor belts are frequently among the least efficient in a facility. The problem is that they often run at partial load, where the needs of the operation require less energy than is actually used. For example, a pump might run constantly at full speed, using mechanical valves to control the flow rate. The motor is therefore working harder than it needs to.
Variable speed drives (VSDs), on the other hand, control the speed and torque of an electric motor, reducing or increasing them depending on the load requirements. This increases the efficiency of the application and reduces the need for oversized motors. Typically, the addition of a VSD to a fan, pump or compressor can result in a reduction in energy usage of 25%.
3. Prevent food waste
Globally, around 14% of food produced is lost before it reaches the retail stage. In the EU, an estimated 20% of the total food produced is lost or wasted. Naturally, this is a huge source of CO₂ emissions and inefficient energy usage. While food wastage has many causes, inefficient production methods and inadequate storage or transport are important contributors.
The use of VSDs, among other measures, can help improve production efficiency, both in terms of energy and wastage. Maintaining appropriate speeds for optimum product quality in processes such as mixing, and ensuring the solidity of the cold chain required to keep food fresh, for example, help lower energy usage and improve the sustainability of the processes.
Food production consumes 30% of the world’s energy. But solutions to optimizing processes like irrigation, milling and refrigeration exist to increase energy efficiency and help feed the planet. Interview with Brith Isaksson, ABB Global Segment Manager, Food & Beverage.
Read more about theABB IE5 SynRM and Drives.
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To meet sustainability targets we need to move to more energy-efficient means of food and beverage production and reduce waste. The technology to do so exists today.