Five Principles for Designing Industrial Manufacturing Equipment to Meet Your Sustainability Goals

Energy-intensive industries such as manufacturers in the automotive, aerospace, power generation, battery manufacturing, building products, foundry, ice builders, and metal packaging often have higher energy consumption costs compared to other industries.

In 2021, the industrial sector accounted for 35% of total U.S. end-use energy consumption and 33% of total U.S. energy consumption.

Here are five principles to follow when looking for new equipment that will lessen your company’s impact on the environment and help meet your sustainability goals. Below is a brief overview of each principle.

Principle One: Conduct an Extensive Review of Older Equipment

Older equipment that is running in many factories is often not operating efficiently. However, companies might be able to retrofit, repair, or replace parts that will lead to improvements.

But at some point, most manufacturers will find that they need to replace older equipment with new equipment that reduces energy usage and improve processes.

Suppose you do need to replace your equipment. In that case, these other four principles will help you make better decisions on the equipment you purchase.

Principle Two: Develop Sustainable Equipment at the Initial Design Phase

There are many opportunities to make meaningful environmental improvements on new equipment to meet sustainability goals. Most design/engineering teams know it is best to evaluate areas for improvement during the initial design phase.

At this step, the entire design team should do an in-depth review of how this product will impact the environment during a thorough evaluation of all the materials used, rethink the manufacturing processes currently used and develop ideas for improvement, create a plan for the long-term maintenance of the equipment that will improve the end of life for the machine.

There are also a few essential questions that you and the design team need to ask during this design process, such as:

Would switching over to electric or hybrid drive reduce our energy usage?

If we select high-efficiency components, employ heat recapture or passive cooling techniques, and implement automatic low-power modes, will we also be able to reduce energy consumption?

The answer to both questions is yes, and the “how” can be found in this preference below:

 “For more than a century, fossil fuels have been essential to powering the world’s largest factories. While a sweeping change won’t happen overnight, electrification is on the rise. Our recent Global Energy Perspective shows that by 2035 renewables could produce more than half of the world’s electricity—in most regions at a lower cost than through fossil-fuel generation. The falling costs of both electrical equipment and renewable electricity generation itself are expected to boost the electrification of industrial processes. This is particularly true for processes such as drying and melting, whose heat requirements collectively account for about 35 percent of fuel consumption for energy in industry today.”

Would incorporating a process systems-level approach in the design yield additional savings?

Yes, when efficiency goes up, the cost of ownership goes down. So, efficiency is good news for the environment and the company’s financial bottom line.

Does designing for easy repair contribute to your sustainability goals?

Yes, because more straightforward repairs and less downtime will extend the machine’s life. A longer life means it will not end up in the landfill earlier compared to one that has not been maintained properly.

Will find ways to reduce water usage while running equipment support a company’s sustainability goals?

Yes, finding ways to reduce water is essential part of a good company sustainability plan.

ITS Water Sustainability

 For example, let’s look at a way a properly designed can washer saves water by using an oil coalescer, or as some people call them – waste oil separators.

An oil coalescer is a great way to clean and recycle process water to be reused before going to your wastewater treatment system; this extends the use of the water and reduces overall water consumption. The coalescer processes and removes the oil using a polypropylene filter media and an oil skimmer tube. The oil is collected and sent to an oil collection tank for disposal. Once the oil is removed from the water, the water is then routed to the clean side of the tank, see figure 1 above.

Principle Three: Utilize a Good R&D Lab to Test Manufacturing Processes and Look for Improved Solutions Before You Start Building a Machine.

ITS R & D Lab Software

Before any customer commits to any equipment purchase, most want to know or confirm their product’s thermal profile or washing process in advance. An R&D lab is a valuable resource for customers because they can dedicate the time to solve specific application issues. The lab can also test new ideas and processes and provide solutions that will improve equipment operations and the parts’ production.

A good R & D oven and washer industrial equipment lab should include a versatile oven and lab washer, an in-house heat transfer program, and commercial CFD software to develop or confirm the heating/washing process with the customer by providing scientific results, with or sometimes without the actual parts.

Principle Four: Find Ways to Increase Automation on the New Machine.

Automation is critical to help manufacturers reduce costs and maintain quality. Automation gives managers tools to make better production decisions and when to plan on doing maintenance that does not slow down day-to-day operations. The benefits automation contributes directly to reducing the company’s environmental impact and ability to reach sustainability goals.

For example: If engineers use automation to help circulate and regulate airflow design in a furnace to ensure their customers’ part is appropriately processed, the customer saves on both production time and reduced energy usage.

Principle Five: Establishment of Proper Maintenance Program

The life span of some industrial equipment may exceed 30 years if properly maintained. Therefore, scheduling preventative maintenance is key to maintaining the maximum efficiencies of your equipment, the best way to avoid downtime and reduce the impact on the environment.

Sustainable Design/ Build Help Available

 If you need to replace your equipment to reduce cost, energy usage, and want to meet your sustainability goals don’t hesitate to contact International Thermal Systems. Since its founding International Thermal Systems machine design team has been focused on finding more efficient and sustainable processing solutions for our customers.

About International Thermal Systems

ITS works with global customers to determine their needs, develop the right solution, and installs/ sets up the equipment at the customers’ facility. From here, it is the continuous interaction between ITS and the customer to maximize the efficiency of their equipment.

ITS – International Thermal Systems is a global original equipment manufacturer of industrial ovens, furnaces, and aqueous washers for automotive, aerospace, power generation, battery manufacturing, building products, foundry, ice builders, and metal packaging industries. ITS is in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, USA, with another manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China. Learn more by visiting us online:

Electric, heat treat, Hybrid, ITS Furnace, ITS ovens, Machine Audit, Maintenance, preventative maintenance, R & D, reduce energy, Sustainability
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