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Energy Savings Using FANUC CNCs

Machine tools use power-hungry motors for pumps, fans and in their spindle and servo drive systems. Reducing energy consumption lowers direct operating costs, controls energy price growth in the market and is environmentally friendly.

A systems approach FANUC uses a “systems approach” to reducing energy consumption, considering the physical components, applications and processes to maximize the potential savings.

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Energy efficient components The motors for hydraulic and pneumatic pumps and the spindle and servo drive system motors are the most significant consumers of energy in a machine tool. Additional motors may be found in automatic tool changers and material handling systems.

Using motors that only run when the machine is “in-cycle” is one way to reduce energy usage. Systems often use induction motors that run at full speed all the time and that cannot be turned on and off quickly. Replacing these with permanent magnet synchronous motors with intelligent speed control or true servo systems is a good first step to greater efficiency.

FANUC’s state-of-the-art spindle and servo drive amplifiers use low-loss power devices that achieve efficiencies as high as 99%, and the product packaging is designed to dissipate any heat generated outside of the electrical cabinet - eliminating the need for energy consuming cooling fans or heat exchangers.

Spindle and servo motor speeds are controlled using pulse width modulation (PWM), and FANUC’s higher PWM frequencies reduce motor iron-losses. High response vector (HRV) control, an advanced form of field oriented control, closes the motor control loops at a very high rate - allowing faster and more precise motor acceleration and speed control.


Energy recapture The servo motors are continuously accelerating and decelerating as the axes change direction during machining. When spindle or servo motors are accelerating, they draw energy from the electrical system. When they are decelerating, their kinetic energy is converted back into electrical energy, which historically has been dissipated as heat in a resistive load in a process called dynamic braking.

Some DC-bus servo drives may share some of the excess energy with other motors on the same machine that may be currently accelerating. Energy may be stored temporarily in banks of capacitors and then released again during drive acceleration. FANUC’s more sophisticated AC drive systems pump the energy directly back into the main electrical supply - reducing the net energy used.

FANUC Power Regeneration

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Power savings mode The modern laptop computer uses several strategies to save precious battery power such as turning off LCD screens, disk drives and other power hungry components on a variety of schedules.

FANUC’s CNC systems include a powerful programmable machine control (PMC) interface that the machine tool builder can use to implement similar strategies for the machine tool. When the machine is not in cycle, the PMC interface can turn off power hungry devices based on a schedule that considers how long the machine has sat idle and the time it takes to restart each component.

Electrical energy is one of the primary running costs of a laser, even if it is not processing material. FANUC’s new Quick Power Savings and Eco Power Savings modes reduce energy costs by as much as 20%. These laser power saving modes also extend the maintenance and service life of the laser - further reducing your total cost of ownership. When the laser sits idle for a specified time after completing a part program, it automatically enters Quick Power Saving mode turning off the RF power supplies to save energy. The laser can restart in a matter of seconds from this mode. If the laser remains idle for a longer period, it enters Eco Power Saving Mode shutting down the laser turbo blower to save even more energy. The laser can restart from this mode in less than 30 seconds.

Cycle time reduction When a machine is in cycle, the total power consumed on a per part basis is largely dependent on the cycle time. If parts can be machined faster, the total number of machines required to produce the same output can be reduced - saving energy and other operational costs.

The processing speed of a machine is often limited by the need to hold geometric tolerances at corners and small radii, or by the need to minimize machine shock when processing small line segments that describe complex curves.

Advanced software in the CNC can look ahead in the part program and take into account the machines mechanical capabilities and then use advanced acceleration/deceleration techniques and optimize the cutting feedrates in real-time. Smoothing algorithms convert small line segments back into complex curves that can be processed faster by the CNC and reduce machine shock. Combining these strategies potentially reduce cycle times by 50% or more while maintaining the same part accuracy.

ECO Settings

Power monitoring It is often said that you cannot improve something that you do not measure. FANUC CNCs monitor everything that is going on in the spindle and servo drive systems, including the power that is being consumed or being regenerated back into the power line. By displaying the electricity consumption dynamically and historically, part program optimization and other process related improvements can be evaluated more effectively. With Ethernet connectivity, the data can also be collected and stored in a database for more detailed analysis including comparative analysis between machines and processes.

FANUC Eco Monitoring

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Putting it all together The systems approach to reducing energy consumption ensures that all avenues are considered and there are success stories of saving 40-50% in machine tool applications.  It means using machine components designed for energy efficiency, drive systems that recuperate rather than burn excess energy, machine interface implementations that consider power saving modes and cycle time reduction strategies. Measuring energy consumption enables pragmatic process improvements based on data.

Energy companies, local and state agencies may provide incentives to invest in energy reduction. By considering energy when purchasing new equipment or when investing in equipment upgrades or process improvements, you not only control costs and maximize your return on investment, but you also make a positive impact on a greener environment.

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