The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

The magazine of Friedhelm Loh Group

Efficiency and service checks for cooling appliances
Experience – Transportation technology

The inspection cannot come too soon

Service. You don’t need to be a customer to benefit from Rittal service. The efficiency and service check for cooling units reveals the maintenance status and savings potential of equipment. Ford in Cologne has benefitted from the package.

Text Martina Pump ––– Photography

A cutting-edge production plant for engines in winter. A small red light on a cooling unit is flashing away to itself, but the unit is out of sight. Months later, one of the production machines suddenly grinds to a halt. A cooling unit in engine production has failed. It’s the worst-case scenario – a production stoppage. It may be some time before the cooling unit responsible for the shutdown can be repaired. And time, in this case, is money.

“In 2015 alone, faulty cooling units caused a total of 13 plant stoppages,” says Helmar Bencker, who is jointly responsible for energy efficiency at Ford in Cologne. “It is not an uncommon occurrence. Production plant operators often only take action when a stoppage occurs. Basic maintenance tasks such as cleaning or replacing filter mats are frequently neglected,” reports ­Andreas Karl from Technical Order Handling at Rittal Service International.

Rittal offers service check and advice

“Naturally, we have in-house climate-control technicians, and they don’t wait around until a plant breaks down,” adds Bencker. However, if they are working at other plants, they can’t be on site straight away. “That’s why we gratefully accepted Rittal’s offer to take an inventory of all our cooling units and review potential energy savings.” Two service technicians from Rittal spent a week carrying out a service and efficiency check on the enclosure and machine cooling systems at Ford.

They reviewed the maintenance condition of more than 220 units at the Cologne plant. This involved checking the cooling unit components for soiling, damage and bearing noise. Next, they compiled a maintenance checklist and suggested improvements. “We also look at how processes can be improved and give customers one or two tips on potential savings. That doesn’t necessarily mean we advise them to replace units,” emphasises Karl, who was responsible for the service check at Ford with his colleague Ralf Schneider.

Neglected cooling units – The service check on the entire cooling unit infrastructure highlighted often very major maintenance requirements and even faults.

“Our analysis showed that 25 of the 226 installed enclosure climate control units – i.e. 11 per cent of them – were faulty and needed to be repaired or replaced,” says Karl, summing up their findings. Most of these units were products from a competitor and were just five years old on average. The remaining ten faulty units included six from other manufacturers (between ten and 20 years old) and just four Rittal units with an average age of 15 years.

Rittal offers service contracts designed specifically to help companies keep an overview of cooling system infrastructures like these, implement regular maintenance to protect against downtime and make sure they are well prepared for an emergency. “The people in charge of maintenance and servicing can then always count on us being on site very quickly in the case of a failure,” says Karl. Rittal doesn’t just offer the efficiency and service check that Ford commissioned for its own climate-control components but for systems from other manufacturers, too. “Our service isn’t just an after-sales offer. In other words, it doesn’t just cover equipment sold by us. It is in fact separate from our cooling unit sales.” However, the project in Cologne also showed that these units can save a great deal of energy.

The Rittal team worked in parallel with the service check to set up a practical trial in the engine plant. Starting from July 2016, the 2.6 kilowatt Rittal Blue e+ cooling unit was compared against the 2.5 kilowatt cooling unit of a competitor. “According to the results so far, the Blue e+ unit has achieved an energy saving of 88.9 per cent compared to the third-party product,” explains Karl.

Results impress the inter­national management team

Using the data it had captured, Rittal compiled a comprehensive efficiency calculation for the Ford plant in Cologne. The results were presented in early November 2016 during an international meeting of the 15 global Ford Engine Plant Managers, including Jürgen Schäfer, Director Cologne Powertrain, and Helmar Bencker from the Cologne plant. The Plant Managers were very impressed by the results.

By replacing 150 cooling units with Rittal Blue e and Blue e+ units, the Cologne plant can achieve energy savings amounting to over 552,000 euros and 276.3 metric tons of CO2 over a service life of ten years. After deducting the investment sum, the payback period is fast, at just 2.42 years, and well below the required period of 3.5 years. This was a crucial argument for the Plant Managers at the meeting, who suggested that savings potentials identified in Cologne should be reviewed for the plants in the UK and USA, too.

Lower energy costs as a response to cost pressures

After evaluating the analysis, Rittal prepared a quotation for Ford Cologne that covered both the maintenance and repair work and the replacement of faulty plants with new, more energy-efficient Rittal Blue e+ cooling units. This is particularly important to Ford, as the cooling units are not just a business-critical factor but also a means of countering the cost pressures in the automotive industry: “When the service life of a cooling unit is taken into account, an average of 48 per cent of costs are generated by energy costs, whereas only 28 per cent stem from the original price of the unit. Investing in an energy-efficient cooling unit is therefore a sensible decision in almost all cases,” explains Karl.

It also puts Bencker and his colleagues in a better position regarding ISO standard 50001, which aims to help organisations establish systematic energy management. Ford is certified to this standard. Bencker: “Every plant has to identify and implement corresponding annual savings measures.” Regulations on saving energy in buildings, which counter energy losses caused by heating and cooling processes, also place stringent demands on the manufacturing sector. The efficiency check from Rittal is the ideal solution. It not only helps Ford avoid production downtime, it also uncovers opportunities to save energy. Another plus point is that lower energy consumption also means lower CO2 emissions, which benefits the environment. It’s a win-win situation for all those involved.

  • Three questions to

    Three questions to

    Judith Kötzsch
    Director Rittal Service International, Business Development

    The service and efficiency check at Ford revealed the need for maintenance work and potential savings. Is that what usually happens? The condition of cooling units not covered by a maintenance contract varies from plant to plant. Their maintenance is actually often neglected. That has an impact on machine availability and energy consumption. A heavily soiled cooling unit consumes up to 30 per cent more power than a clean one. What’s more, in certain cases, it can be worthwhile replacing old units with the latest technologies.

    How can customers get long-term support from Rittal? We offer multiple-year service contracts that help installed equipment retain its value and ensure the associated costs can be planned.

    What are these contracts like and what benefits do they offer? An agreement is made regarding maintenance intervals and reaction times. Everything is included, from the annual service to on-site deployment within four hours. In each case, customers benefit from transparent costs, fully qualified service technicians and warranty extensions.


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