Energy efficiency is becoming a hot topic up and down the supply chain, as Mikael Karlsson from AP&T explains. End users of industrial machinery expect it from OEM companies such as AP&T, which manufactures machinery such as servo hydraulic sheet metal presses for its customers worldwide. These expectations reach further down the chain to each and every component supplier. An interview with Mikael Karlsson, Product Manager, Press Products, AP&T
For AP&T, using the synchronous reluctance (SynRM) motor from ABB is a key component that improves the efficiency and sustainability of their servo hydraulic presses. Mikael Karlsson points out that they are two different things – Both important drivers for their customers. “When we look at energy efficiency, it is still firstly an economical factor for our customers. But looking at the environmental side, it is something that is becoming more and more important to them as well.”
Karlsson has been a part of the development process of their servo hydraulic presses from the very beginning. Before his current role as the product manager, he was the R&D manager responsible for the development project. He recollects that working together with ABB has always been more of a close partnership than a simple customer-supplier relationship. “ABB presented their new SynRM motors as an alternative to the product we were initially discussing with them,” he explains. The SynRM motor ticked all of AP&Ts boxes. It delivered great performance paired with improved environmental factors such as not using any rare earth metals like cobalt or neodymium.
Thanks to their smart design including the use of SynRM motors, AP&Ts servo hydraulic presses, which are being used to press sheet metal as well as other materials such as wood-based fibre composites, have been reported to deliver considerable savings in terms of energy consumption. “In some industrial applications we have reported reductions in energy consumption of up to 70%. That is a considerable number,” Karlsson points out. “The SynRM motors we source from ABB do play an important role. In some of our bigger machines we may have up to 16 of these motors installed.”
Sustainability and energy efficiency are listed as high priorities within AP&T. Mikael Karlsson explains how the company views these things. “We we were quite early to recognize and understand that in order to be competitive, we need to be energy efficient and work on the sustainability of our products. Our strategy is to have a sustainable product lifecycle, which also includes total cost of ownership.” He feels that there are three key factors surrounding energy efficient motors: performance, cost efficiency and sustainability. “With the servo hydraulic presses utilizing SynRM motors, we believe we have a product that has all the important factors covered.”
When asked about the drivers behind the growing demand for more energy efficient industrial machinery, Mikael Karlsson is quick to mention ever-tightening regulations and standards. “We tend to see these shifts in both attitude and legislation take place here in Northern Europe first. But with two thirds of our business outside of Europe, in both directions – East and West – we are happy to see a similar shift starting to take place very quickly.”
When asked about the future goals of AP&T, Mikael Karlsson says, “We have made huge leaps in energy saving, as I said 70% in some processes, but until we are at 100% energy efficiency, there’s always something to do. We want all energy to go into the forming process, not end up as wasted energy.” He also felt that with the benefits it provides in terms of efficiency and sustainability, the technology that is being used in the company’s servo hydraulic presses should eventually become the technology of choice for the company’s entire press portfolio. Karlsson sums up the topic with an important reminder. “It is important for the discussion around energy efficiency to continue and to also spread across the entire value chain. It is not just about meeting targets and regulations. It is not just the interest of the end customer, either. This is a topic that should be important to all of us.”
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