2 February 2012
A European project is being designed to create intelligent energy-management systems for car makers in an effort to drive down factory emissions and costs.
It will be based on optimising demand, integration of renewables and effective heat distribution, among other initiatives.
‘Europe produces about 15 million cars a year, which surprisingly is about 25 per cent of the world’s total production,’ said Dr Richard Bateman from UK project partner Brunel University. ‘In terms of total industrial energy consumption it’s only about 1.2 per cent which doesn’t sound much, but you scale that up and it’s a huge amount each year, so if we could make a 10 per cent impact on that, it’s a big saving in energy and CO2.’
The ’EuroEnergest’ Framework 7 programme also involves SEAT, Enertika, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and Comfort Consulting.
‘If you look at the general figures that are published, something like 70 per cent of the energy is used in the paintshop, then 20 per cent is used in the metal-bashing part, the casting and forging, and actually the assembly part, which we all have as the picture in our heads of what car production is, with robots and everything, that’s only 10 per cent,’ Bateman said.
It is expected that the systems will interact with industrial loads and available power sources to optimise the demanded power costs, as well as maximising local and low-carbon energy sources.
‘A car factory is too complex for human beings to control, so the idea is to build a system that first of all knows exactly what’s going on and, second, it can make some very timely, dynamic decisions as to what needs to be altered,’ said Bateman.
Validation of the system will be done at SEAT’s Barcelona facility and potentially applied across the entire Audi-Volkswagen group and, in the longer term, even to the aerospace industry, Bateman said.