Meeting the efficiency challenge

May 4, 2011
Next to the economic recovery taking hold in most markets, two topics dominate business conversations: the environment and energy. Also, the current debate about sources of energy

Karl Tragl
President and CEO
Bosch Rexroth AG
Lohr am Main,

Next to the economic recovery taking hold in most markets, two topics dominate business conversations: the environment and energy. Also, the current debate about sources of energy (not least since recent events in Japan) and how it’s used especially demonstrates there are cost, safety, engineering, and environmental challenges that no currently available technology can fully meet. Given that promising alternatives are not yet fully developed or proven, we have to live with an energy mix for the foreseeable future.

Thus, the only short-term means of reducing CO2 is to save energy. At the same time, in industrial production we want to safeguard productivity. Saving energy and maintaining productivity is no contradiction. It is possible, if we improve energy efficiency.

Other drivers for energy efficiency include:

• Growing ecological awareness worldwide.
• Enormous energy demand in new, booming markets.
• Constantly rising energy costs.
• Increasing legal and regulatory obligations. Around the world, legislation is being drafted and rules implemented to reduce CO2 emissions, and many companies want to meet these targets sooner than required.

What is Rexroth’s strategy? First, we will reduce our own CO2 emissions 20% by 2020 at all our plants worldwide.

Initial analyses at our major facilities reveal this is not only beneficial for the environment, but can also be done in a cost-effective way. Our advantage: We have experience across all drive and control technologies and with almost all types of industrial and mobile machines.

We introduced the Rexroth 4EE system for energy efficiency in 2009. It’s based on four principles:

Efficient components, such as servomotors that are more than 95% efficient and new axial-piston pumps with minimal mechanical and hydraulic losses.

Recover, store, and reuse surplus energy, with systems such as electric drive controllers that recover braking energy, hydrostatic regenerative brakes for mobile machines, and pneumatic cylinders that reuse compressed air.

Energy on demand. Demand-oriented, closed-loop control generates only as much power as a task requires and can reduce power consumption in electric, hydraulic, and pneumatic actuators by up to 50%.

Energy-system design. We’ve developed software design tools that precisely size components to combine energy efficiency with the shortest possible cycle times.

Just as important is the intelligent linking of pneumatics, electric drives, and hydraulics to fully realize a system’s energy-efficiency potential — as well as deliver the exact performance, precision, reliability, and safety the user demands.

Now, based on experience gained at our own plants, we plan to use 4EE as a basis for a new energy-efficiency consultancy service to support our customers. Trained energy consultants will analyze existing machines and production lines, implement changes, and verify the results. Pilot projects have been quite successful. A French food group, for example, says the resulting energy saving paid for the investment within a year.

This is our answer to the challenges we are facing in energy and the environment. Our experience shows CO2 emissions in industrial production can be reduced. Even better: We can do it quickly and in an economical way. MD

Learn more about Rexroth energy-efficiency consultancy and 4EE program at

Edited by Kenneth J. Korane

© 2011 Penton Media, Inc.

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