Portable Electricity Monitoring

The American Foundry Society (AFS), in conjunction with Sensor Synergy, Barrington, Ill., and Alu-Bra Foundry, Bensenville, Illinois, tested power monitoring equipment to help identify opportunities to save on electricity costs.

The program utilized Sensor Synergy’s portable monitoring system to measure and record electricity usage from three of Alu-Bra’s induction furnaces and provided the management team with real-time electricity cost display. The results were then sent to Sensor Synergy’s central data collection servers for off-site analysis.

Initial suggestions implemented produced a 10% cost savings, and throughput was increased by 3.5%. If all suggestions are implemented, electric savings are estimated at 25%, with a 10% melting throughput increase, adding up to a total annual savings of $70,000, in 2012.

Additional study results:

  • Three furnaces consumed ~70% of the total electricity consumption for the foundry.
  • The induction furnaces operated at ~30% efficiency.
  • Energy savings were achieved by covering the crucible during melting.
  • Controlling power levels of partially-filled crucibles reduced energy usage.
  • Heat loss was reduced using crucible covers on empty, hot crucibles awaiting furnace time.
  • Using smaller ingots increased the charge density and heat transfer in the crucible during melting.
  • Abandoned/incomplete heat cycles sometimes occurred when a filled crucible’s melt cycle was interrupted by the operator.

The Energy Solutions program is available to AFS Corporate members.