Challenging economic conditions and the commensurate impact on investments reduce the impetus to deploy energy efficiency equipment and systems despite a squeeze in local electricity use and higher electricity tariffs, says industrial drives and motors specialist company SEW-Eurodrive South Africa national sales and marketing director Norman Maleka.
However, regulations to ensure that industries comply with the minimum energy efficiency or energy-management requirements can help to increase the pace of deployment of such technology and systems.
“The financial benefits of energy efficient equipment and systems are known and provable, but there is little drive in South African industries to invest to reduce energy consumption especially while the industrial sectors are almost all under significant economic pressure,” he explains.
However, the savings that can be achieved by lowering energy use directly impacts on the cost of production and a company’s bottom line.
“There is a wait-and-see approach, which also means that South African industry is typically falling behind its international peers. “We have case studies of energy savings of 40% to 50% that were achieved in the food and beverage industry – specifically a bottling plant in Germany – after our energy efficient drives and motors had been installed.
“Yet, despite these provable reductions, the pace of replacement and retrofitting in South Africa remains slow.”
SEW-Eurodrive tries to overcome this slow rate of adoption of new technologies and equipment by providing consulting and expert design services for clients.
A crucial element of energy efficiency is a holistic view of the system and support systems. Without a review of the equipment and the energy profiles of a production line or a process, the maximum potential energy savings will not be realised and can deter companies from deploying more efficient technologies, he says.
The earlier a company includes energy efficiency as a design principle in a project, the less costly the deployment will be and the greater the savings.
“We have a broad basket of energy efficient products that conform with international energy efficiency standards and these are available in South Africa. Our application and process engineers help clients to design the installations of energy efficient systems and ensure that the energy efficiency gains in one area of a production line is not squandered in another.”
Often, the company has a window of opportunity to propose more energy efficient drives and motors for clients when there is an equipment failure. However, during a failure, clients want to replace broken down equipment as quickly as possible and are rarely interested in replacing older equipment with more efficient equipment.
If a client aims to replace equipment during a scheduled maintenance period or recognises that a system is approaching the end of its life, the most efficient and relevant equipment and integrated solutions can be designed and installed.
“We have a condition-monitoring service department in SEW-Eurodrive South Africa to improve the resilience of companies’ lines and ensure that they use scheduled maintenance periods to the greatest effect and that their operations are efficient as well as productive.”
Uptake of this service, however, is low and not in line with its operations in other territories. Maleka believes that this is partly a result of the pressures on industrial companies, as well as limited incentives or regulatory requirements to implement condition monitoring and energy management.
“We have a range of suitable equipment and systems, including variable-speed drives and geared motors, industrial gear units and heavy-duty units, as well as small motors, which we use in our designs to ensure that the application has the correct mix of motors, drives and connectivity to improve performance and efficiency.”
However, the correct technical advice to design suitable solu- tions using proven systems is key and SEW-Eurodrive encourages its clients to approach it early in their design phases to tap the company’s knowledge based on verified international installations, concludes Maleka.