Energy How energy efficiency can be translated into shop-floor reality

Author / Editor: Nikolaus Fecht / Briggette Jaya

Germany - It would be the ideal who-wants-to-be-a millionaire” quiz question: Where do machinery manufacturers, architects, construction engineers and electrical engineers all work together under the same roof? The answer is the ETA factory of Darmstadt University of Applied Science. Together with private companies, it is tackling a keynote topic of the EMO Hannover 2017.

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“Today, all first-semester mechanical engineering students are already being confronted with the potential for energy savings in production operations,” says Professor Abele, PTW's director at the Darmstadt University of Applied Science.
“Today, all first-semester mechanical engineering students are already being confronted with the potential for energy savings in production operations,” says Professor Abele, PTW's director at the Darmstadt University of Applied Science.
(Source: Foto: Presseagentur Fecht)

How can machine tools’ appetite for energy be downsized in interactive coordination with all systems, and how can firms actually put this expertise into practice?

In Hanover, the first specific solutions for the energy-efficient production operations of tomorrow will be unveiled – by Bosch Rexroth. The company is working closely together with the researchers in Darmstadt. Professor Eberhard Abele, Director of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools at Darmstadt University of Applied Science founded the Process Learning Factory (CiP) in Darmstadt in 2007 and in 2016, the Energy-Efficiency, Technology and Application Centre (ETA factory).

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Professor Eberhard Abele

Professor Eberhard Abele, Director of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools at Darmstadt University of Applied Science, saw his heart’s desire granted in 2000. The cybernetics graduate, with a doctorate in mechanical engineering, was born in Waldstetten (Schwäbisch Gmünd County), and after 15 years in the industrial sector wanted to build a factory at the University of Applied Science, so as to educate students under realistic conditions. Professor Abele has meanwhile even seen his wish come true twice: in 2007, the bustling Swabian founded the Process Learning Factory (CiP) in Darmstadt, and in 2016 the Energy Efficiency, Technology and Application Centre (ETA factory).

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Training and researching energy-efficiency

Abele's motivation was self-evident to him: While CiP serves as a competence centre for lean production and Industry 4.0, the ETA factory was tasked with training and research in the field of energy-efficiency. It is required, for instance, to serve as a learning factory, with whose aid Darmstadt University of Applied Science also aims to integrate the topic of energy-efficiency into the curricula for mechanical and construction engineers. To quote Professor Abele: “Today, all first-semester mechanical engineering students are already being confronted with the potential for energy savings in production operations. In sub-sequent semesters, they then find an almost ideal environment for trying out their own creative approaches to improved energy-efficiency in dissertations and theses.”

The ETA factory, however, is primarily a large-scale research laboratory for industrial energy-efficiency, helping the German government to halve energy consumption by 2050 in comparison to 2008. In this context, the industrial sector plays a crucial role, since according to the German Federal Environmental Agency, it consumes nearly a third of the total energy in Germany. Reason enough for the nation’s Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) to subsidise the ETA factory’s construction, its entire equipment and its long years of research work with €15 m.

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