“Our new factory is, without doubt, the most energy efficient in the whole sector”
‘The mother ship’ – this is how snowboard manufacturer CAPiTA MFG GmbH describes its new factory in Carinthia. And its production hall, boldly reaching for the stars like a spaceship during blast-off, does indeed look a little as though it wants to take off from the ground. Measuring the size of four football fields, the factory in Feistritz is the largest production site for snowboards in the world. And it can lay claim to a second entry in the records book: ‘Our new factory is, without doubt, the most energy efficient in the whole sector,’ says the firm’s boss, Michael Kollmann. For implementing the innovative energy concept of its ‘mother ship’, CAPiTA was recently awarded first prize in dena’s Energy Efficiency Award 2016.
What is the Austrian snowboard manufacturer’s recipe for success? ‘When planning the factory, we focused on energy efficiency right from the start,’ explains Kollmann. This made it possible to take the interaction of all technical facilities into consideration even at a very early stage – an important precondition for achieving synergy effects.
To make snowboards, you need heat and cold in equal measure – heat for such things as pressing and printing the boards, cold for cooling down presses and grinding machines. Instead of a conventional cooling machine and heat generator, therefore, CAPiTA decided to install a system that combined the functions of both: a high-efficiency cooling system using ammonia, which supplied heating for the processes and premises at the same time. This means that the company has been able to dispense with a boiler. ‘Generating heating and cooling with a single system is the easiest and best way to achieve high efficiency goals,’ says Franz Josef Schögl from the consultancy firm Sattler Energie Consulting, which created the entire energy-saving concept. Also contributing to their low energy requirements is CAPiTA’s use of a river running close to the factory as heating and cooling reservoir for their cooling system. This enables the company to considerably reduce the plant’s electricity consumption.
All in all, CAPiTA has invested 1.2 million euros in its efficiency programme. That amount is quickly paying for itself: compared with their old production plant, the company is making energy savings of 84 per cent. This reduces energy costs by 294,000 euros per year. In this way, the snowboard manufacturer is achieving a return of 24 per cent on its capital investment.
Efficiency measures improve competitiveness
Energy Efficiency Award. Set up by dena as part of its Initiative EnergieEffizienz (Energy Efficiency Campaign), since 2007 the annual competition has evolved into a showcase for innovative energy management and efficient technologies. To date it has received 661 applications from 44 countries. The award winners are chosen by a jury of experts, made up of independent representatives from politics, industry, science, and the specialist media. The awards come with a total prize money of €30,000.
Like the other Energy Efficiency Award winners, CAPiTA is a ‘trailblazer for real-world innovation in the energy transition,’ as dena’s Managing Director Kristina Haverkamp stressed during the awards ceremony last November. The dena competition is aimed at energy efficiency projects in companies from industry, trade and commerce that are distinguished by a particularly cost-efficient approach, quantifiable successes, and good potential for transferability to other businesses. ‘By providing these model examples, we want to motivate as many companies as possible to become active themselves,’ says Haverkamp.
The prizewinning projects clearly show how companies can sustainably reduce costs, boost their competitiveness and improve their climate footprint by improving their energy efficiency. And – no less significantly – the Energy Efficiency Award demonstrates the considerable returns on investment that businesses can achieve with efficiency measures.
Energy efficiency with digital solutions
That also applies to Rauschert Heinersdorf - Pressig GmbH, which manufactures precision components made of ceramics or plastic. Energy is one of the Franconian company’s biggest cost items. So, a few years ago, they decided to install a measurement system that would record a wide range of energy data. Since none of the systems available on the market fulfilled their requirements, the company’s experts – in partnership with researchers from the Frauenhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits – finally developed their own solution: a sensor that measures electrical current and voltage per phase through a single clip. ‘That means that the data obtained are very precise,’ says Michael Müller from Rauschert Heinersdorf - Pressig. For developing the sensor, the company has been awarded the ‘Recognition Prize for Digitalisation’.
“We’re benefiting greatly from our recognition by dena.”
These sensors now enable the company to assess their facilities from the point of view of energy technology – ‘a major advantage when we talk to suppliers about the energy efficiency of their new equipment,’ says Müller. Moreover, it’s now possible to optimise the energy efficiency of the manufacturing process. ‘That saves energy, reduces waste at the same time, and improves product quality.’ The medium-sized company has been able to reduce its energy consumption by a total of 42 per cent. The return on this investment in savings amounts to 34 per cent. Other companies could also achieve such successes in future: now Rauschert Heinersdorf - Pressig GmbH is also selling its sensors to other companies. ‘The dena Award is a great help here,’ says Müller. ‘Since we haven’t been able to make a name for ourselves in the electronics sector yet, we still have to establish a presence there first. In that regard, we’re benefiting greatly from our recognition by dena.’
Systematic approach to optimising energy-efficiency
“Because of our integrated project approach, we were also able to implement measures that, would not have been implemented for economic reasons.”
The automotive glass manufacturer Pilkington Automotive Deutschland GmbH has also improved energy efficiency at its factory in Saxony-Anhalt with a whole host of initiatives: for example, converting the entire lighting system to LEDs, replacing their conventional cooling system with innovative sorption technology, optimising the re-cooling system for the autoclave process, installing a CHP using waste heat for production, and recovering waste heat from wastewater. The total sum invested in the project was around 2.9 million euros. Pilkington is achieving a return of 14 per cent on this.
Underlying all the individual measures is a holistic approach, which took into consideration all the company’s energy consumers and power generation units. For this, Pilkington received support from experts at the E.ON subsidiary for energy services. ‘Because of our integrated project approach, we were also able to implement measures that, despite having a major effect on energy efficiency, would not have been implemented for economic reasons (a long amortisation period) if we’d considered them separately,’ explains Pilkington Manager Marcel Devereaux. The dena awards jury presented Pilkington with second prize for this systematic approach.
Efficient heating technology for warehouses and shop floors
Warehouses and shop floors are difficult to heat. The volume of space is huge; the energy requirements are high – at least with conventional heating technology. For these reasons, in 2015 the Thelen Group – a real-estate company based in Essen – had a production hall in Neuss fitted with an innovative infrared heating system from the Kübler company. Experts from Kübler also took charge of planning and installing the system. The building is let out to four tenants, each with different heating needs. Instead of heating the air of the entire hall, the decentralised infrared radiators now make it possible to create individual heat zones. Not only is it comfortable, it also saves a great deal of energy – because now, only those places where heating is actually needed receive heat. Within the first heating period, the energy requirement fell by almost sixty per cent. This results in a return on investment of 43 per cent.
“Thanks to the new heating system, we’ve been able to noticeably increase the competitiveness of our property in Neuss.”
‘Thanks to the new heating system, we’ve been able to noticeably increase the competitiveness of our property in Neuss. That’s mainly due to the huge reduction in consumption costs, but also with regard to warmth and operating comfort,’ says the company’s delighted CEO, Wolfgang Thelen. For these reasons, the tenants are highly satisfied with the technology. The Thelen Group was awarded third prize for switching to efficient heating technology. ‘Receiving the Energy Efficiency Award once again confirms that our decision was the right one, and a good one,’ Thelen explains.