Pushing to the limits of energy-efficient weaving
The Belgian weaving machinery manufacturer Picanol is developing together with a European Consortium of research partners a new method for textile machinery with lower energy consumption
The need for efficient energy management applies as well to the application of weaving machines. The new initiative by Picanol is addressing all possibilities to reduce energy consumption in their machines, especially under the aspect of the forecasts that energy prices will increase globally. The total ownership of a machine does not only comprise the purchase cost but also maintenance and operating costs and is substantially influence by energy consumption thus making energy costs an important performance characteristic, also from a point of sale and differentiation from competitors.
Therefore, Picanol partners in the ESTOMAD (Energy Software Tools for Sustainable Machine Design) project in collaboration with the research institutes FMTC (B) for mechatronic aspects, KU Leuven (B) and CNR-ITIA ()I) and the companies EC Engineering (PL), FIDIA (I), JOBS (I) and LMS Imagine (F) to develop a new method for designing energy-efficient machinery. This initiative proves that collaborative research is leading to new frontiers.
From Picanol’s view the next machine generations will include mechatronic concepts reducing the ecological footprint without impeding the machine’s performance. To improve the energy efficiency of such machinery the manufacturers must have a clear understanding of where the energy is consumed or lost, and the new concept must reduce consumption and losses by optimising the control parameters of the machine. ESTOMAD will add the parameter “energy” to the existing methods of computer-aided design of machinery. This enables the machine designer to reproduce all the relevant energy flows in the machine in a simulation environment allowing identification, qualification and analysis of all parameters, including the one of a single component as well as of the entire machine during a specified work cycle. When the analysis has been completed, the alternative ways of reducing the energy consumption are examined and their effect can be identified at an early stage in the simulation environment and the design process can be enhanced.
The OptiMax rapier weaving machine serves as a benchmark. The pairing of all components has to be evaluated under varying operational conditions and to be implemented in a software environment both during the drafting of the ESTOMAD methodology and after the delivery of the project results. Thus, the Picanol research department contributed to a challenging benchmark application with its OptiMax rapier loom. It is clear, that the OptiMax ‘s energy consumption is already at low level, the energy flows inside the machine are very high and are causing changes in the machine design to immediately produce results that can be accurately measured allowing quick and clear evaluation of new steps in the ESTOMAD project. The energy consumption of the sub-mechanisms of the OptiMax main drive line are 28 % for the gearbox, 26 % of the 3D mechanism left, 26 % of the 3D mechanism right and each 10 % for the sley and dampers.
Picanol will integrate the gained knowledge of ESTOMAD into its new applications and developments in order to remain an innovation leader in energy efficiency as well as in order domains. ESTOMAD is funded by the EU 7th Framework Program (2007 – 2013)