Projektinfo – Detailed information on energy research

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The ETA Factory on the campus of the Technische Universität Darmstadt is a research project, large-scale demonstrator and place of learning
© Eibe Sönnecken, TU Darmstadt, PTW
Factory of the future
Projektinfo 03/2018

© Eibe Sönnecken, TU Darmstadt, PTW
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Energy efficient model factory

A multi-functional, multi-networked factory in every respect: The ETA Factory on the campus of the Technische Universität Darmstadt is a research project, large-scale demonstrator and place of learning. It networks the building envelope and industrial process chain across technologies and disciplines in individual and integrated solutions, thus increasing the energy efficiency of the overall system. Shifting the system boundaries between machines and the building creates economically realisable energy savings of up to 40 per cent relative to conv

36 project partners from science and industry are working to optimally network the energy and material flows in the factory of the future. The Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) at TU Darmstadt is coordinating this interdisciplinary team from the mechanical and civil engineering, architecture, electrical and communication technology as well as supply engineering fields. Industrial working groups are supporting the implementation of the research results into operational, production engineering-based practice. ETA stands for Energy Efficiency, Technology and Application Centre. In engineering sciences the Greek letter „eta“ refers to efficiency, a key indicator of energy efficiency.

Unlike previous factory halls, the building for the ETA Factory is not just a shell for the production facilities: the machines and building are energy efficiently interlinked while the energy flows are optimally harmonised in the production processes and building as well as in the supply and building technology. The researchers are using a production process chain from metal processing to demonstrate how a factory can work in a holistically energy-efficient manner. In addition to researching tomorrow‘ s energy- and resource-optimised industrial production, the multifunctional research factory serves to network and exchange knowledge between researchers and users. It is a learning environment for industry and teaching that supports the transfer of knowledge into practice.


Understanding and optimally using the energy system

The factory‘s design was aimed at reducing the energy consumption and at the same time increasing the load flexibility. For the researchers, the challenge was to use the right form of energy in the required quantity at the right time and in the right place. At the same time it is important to prevent excess capacities in the infrastructure, production, distribution, storage and conversion. In the ETA Factory they show which savings can be achieved if the factory‘s energy system is understood holistically. Savings were achieved by optimising the:

  • production machines and cross-sectional technologies in mechanical engineering
  • technical building services equipment and supply technology
  • building envelope, facades and structure
  • monitoring, energy data management and mining through adopting „Industry 4.0“ approaches
  • load flexibility and control optimisation
  • simulation approaches for planning and operating production facilities

The savings successes are evident for each of the fields of action, such as the processing and cleaning of the workpieces as well as the use of the building and the system control management.

Energy-efficient machining

The machine tools used in the factory (machining centre, vertical turning machine, vertical grinding machine) are a fifth more energy efficient than reference machines. This was achieved by measures for all peripheral loads, including variable-speed hydraulic power units and a needs-led supply of cooling lubricant, whereby the machining parameters defined by the process were retained.

In addition, the cooling system and the use of inevitable waste heat have been improved. For example, the motor spindle for a lathe converts about one fifth of the electrical energy supplied into heat. Decentralised cooling enabled more than 40% of the waste heat to be dissipated and used for other processes.

When cooling the grinding machine, the decentralised compression chiller was replaced by a newly developed heat exchange module that is integrated into the factory‘s central cooling network. The fluid-bound heat dissipation also reduces the heat input into the production hall, which in turn reduces the energy required for air conditioning.


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Management of the joint ETA Factory project
TU Darmstadt, PTW

Energy controlling and control of energy flows
Bosch Rexroth AG

Energy-efficient machining processes
EMAG GmbH & Co. KG

Energy- and media-efficient heat treatment
IVA Schmetz GmbH

Energy-efficient workpiece cleaning
MAFAC - E. Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG

Thermal interaction of the factory building, building technology, process chain
ZAE Bayern - Garching

Dissemination of research results for the ETA Factory
TU Darmstadt

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