Sustainable Innovation: Advanced Air Solutions for Hollow Glass Manufacturing

In the heart of a glass factory, bottles come to life where the gob enters the mould at the IS machine. In this process, compressed air and vacuum play a major role, dictating the speed and quality of the hollow glass moulding. The continuous availability of pneumatic energy is a pillar in 24/7 glass production. Industry experts carefully choose equipment, taking into account the total Life Cycle Cost, with a keen focus on electric power consumption and maintenance costs that span for decades. In order to navigate seamlessly this intricate landscape, here are some key guidelines to steer clear of operational issues.

Compressed Air and Vacuum Dynamics

While vacuum remains optional in hollow glass production, compressed air is crucial. Pressure requirements are typically set at 3,5 bar(g) and, occasionally, they reach 7 bar(g) in specific operations. In glassworks, the ambient air is far from being pristine, thus requiring the use of pneumatic machinery equipped with effective filters. In line with the average durability of furnaces, which can withstand up to two decades of operation, equipment should share a similar or even longer lifespan and should be designed for longevity even in round-the-clock operation.

Power Hierarchy

In the energy consumption hierarchy of a glasswork, the furnace claims the top spot as it is powered by either gas or electricity. But compressors follow closely behind. In an era where climate awareness is constantly rising and CO2 emissions are directly related to power usage, the selection of high-efficient equipment is mandatory. Nevertheless, the durability of compressors remains a critical aspect that must be taken into consideration, with the support of clear expense schedules for both routine and extraordinary maintenance over the years.

Technology Comparison and Reliability

High-capacity air compressors and vacuum pumps flood the market, even if sometimes their technical data challenge scientific logic in favour of pure sales propaganda. But facts are facts and references of equipment installations running trouble-free for decades are what to look for when durability is required. Testimonials from customers with long-term running machines offer insights into maintenance costs, efficiency in the long-run as well as spare parts availability. Choosing equipment with prolonged efficiency and durability reduces the need for costly overhauls and it turns to be the most convenient and sustainable choice over time.

Life Cycle Cost Calculations

Durable equipment, that keeps the efficiency constant years after years, has to be the preferred solution. Furthermore, overhauling must be avoided as much as possible as it can be exorbitantly expensive. Capital expense costs for new machinery require long approval procedures as they are strictly controlled by the purchasing and accounting departments. In contrast, running costs like maintenance and power consumption fall within the yearly budget and they are hard to be verified in advance, despite the fact that they are the largest expenses over the years. Therefore, it is essential to adopt a more comprehensive approach in decision making, that takes into account the total Life Cycle Cost, which is the addition of purchase cost, maintenance and energy consumption, and the calculation of the total Cost of Ownership.

Spotlight on Efficient Vacuum Solutions

Pneumofore UV50 Rotary Vane Vacuum Pump is one of the preferred models in worldwide glassworks. This vacuum pump stands out by boasting 75 kW for 2.700 m3/h in its standard, fix- speed version. Though the nominal installed power may initially seem high, this unit reveals an oversized electrical motor which ensures an extended bearing life and an improved ventilation. Furthermore, it does not use the motor’s safety factor, but it operates in the designed optimal range. Quite the opposite, in equipment that uses the safety factor, the electrical motor lasts only as long as the warranty, soon becoming a component subject to 'forced replacement' or 'forced overhauling'. Pneumofore philosophy is in contrast with this 'Programmed Obsolescence' approach, a practice prohibited by law, at least in Europe. The company’s commitment to durability is extended to other essential components such as the Air-End, the cooling system and the electrical panel, ensuring longevity and constant efficiency over decades of continuous operation.

Operational Independence and Reliability

Last but not least, those companies that facilitate the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) independence shine in the spotlight, empowering the glasswork’s internal service teams to operate autonomously and maintain equipment efficiently. In a factory, where downtime translates into significant costs, having reliable equipment is a key factor and even more important when it concerns the five vital energy resources within a glass factory: electricity, water, gas, compressed air and vacuum.

09.03.2024, Pneumofore


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