ENGINE BLOCK AND HEAD PLANT | Joinville, Brazil
TUPY, based in Joinville, Brazil, is a global supplier of cast iron components for a variety of markets. Founded in 1938 as a producer of pipe fittings, today the company designs and manufactures engine components and other parts for passenger, commercial, agricultural and naval vehicles, as well as produces fittings, steel shot, and continuous casting for industrial applications.
TUPY operates four manufacturing plants: one each in Joinville and Maua, Brazil, and one each in Saltillo and Ramos Arizpe, Mexico.
As part of TUPY’s goal of achieving greater energy efficiency, the company identified potential for improvement at its recently acquired Ramos Arizpe plant, which produces cast iron engine blocks and heads for automobile manufacturers. At that facility, two compressor rooms about 300 feet apart housed seven Cameron centrifugal compressors tied into a common air line. The compressors were manually adjusted and operated independently at about 100 psi, a pressure that plant personnel had considered necessary to maintain production integrity.
The goal for the plant was to lower air pressure and be able to shut off one of the seven compressors and still maintain the desired level of air pressure to ensure the proper operation of pneumatic tools used in the production process.
But maintaining steady pressure across the header presented an obstacle. Because the header had not been configured optimally during its original installation, pressures were being read several feet in front of the compressors rather than near the point of use. This setup resulted in readings that did not reflect true pressure and flow, compounding the challenge of improving overall system efficiency and making it difficult to achieve consistent pneumatic tool performance.
Bay Controls engineers visited the plant to assess the compressed air system and to identify an energy and cost-saving solution and determined that by upgrading the system header and networking the units, pressure could be reduced to 90 psi from 100 psi, with no adverse effect on productivity or quality. This incremental reduction of pressure would translate to a considerable savings in electricity usage and cost; at the time, electricity prices in Mexico were high relative to other countries, and rising unchecked.
Following Bay Controls’ recommendations, TUPY installed new Bay Controls compressor controllers integrated as a networked system and centrally managed by BayView Server.
The Bay compressor controllers’ networking capability links the individual compressors and controls them as a unified system. Microprocessors continuously monitor and control each compressoron the network. Based on this data, the optimum number of compressors run at full load (max efficiency), while a single designated unit adjusts its load up or down as necessary to maintain pressure and meet plant demand. As plant air demand increases or decreases, units in the network can automatically start or stop as needed, which reduces unnecessary runtime and saves energy.
In addition to providing continuous real-time and historic air system monitoring, BayView Serveroffers multiple additional features, including automated and remote compressor operation, report generation, trending data, and alerting capabilities. These features provide plant personnel with valuable data and insights into their air compressor system’s ongoing performance and energy usage and with instant warning notifications sent to plant managers when key compressor metrics fall below pre-set performance levels.
Implementing the Bay Controls system has enabled TUPY’s Ramos Arizpe facility to achieve multiple goals in its compressed air system: reduce air pressure, increase reliability, and realize cost savings. The plant now maintains its desired 90 psi target pressure and enjoys a stable air system with fewer maintenance needs and less downtime associated with compressor malfunctions and shutdowns. The payback period was four months for the turnkey project, which involved an initial investment of $40,000, including engineering and labor. And the bottom-line impact was substantial, with projected annual energy savings of 10 percent, or $140,700.
Boosted by the advantages provided by Bay Controls, the streamlined TUPY plant is better positioned to compete in supplying the cost-sensitive original equipment automotive market it serves.