When Will Your Competitor Outbid You?
Jim King 03.09.2016
Many around the world look at the U.S. market and think we don’t care about the cost of energy. They see us driving big SUVs that get 12-15 miles per gallon and shake their heads in amazement. In their eyes we just consume energy with no thought about cost or conservation. In Canada it’s a different story because their energy costs there are skyrocketing, so they’re are actively seeking energy-saving technologies. I had one Canadian shop owner tell me that his energy bill goes up $4,000 per month for air conditioning in the summer. Energy-efficiency is a hot topic in Japan as well. So much so that last year the Japanese government rolled out a program where they paid 50% of the purchase price (in CASH) for qualifying capital equipment investments. This funding went well into the billions and spurred widespread adoption of energy-efficient technologies.
Closer to Home
There are ways for companies to take advantage of government subsidies here in the U.S. as well. You can get a 20%-30% rebate off the cost of re-lamping your facility. Electrical suppliers are motivated to do this because it helps them from a broader grid standpoint. If they can reduce usage by manufacturers, who are heavy users, then they can reduce the overall power footprint in their service area.
In the Home
Intelligent energy-savers like the Nest Learning Thermostat are making inroads into the American psyche. When you install a Nest in your home, it learns the temperatures you like and programs itself in about a week. It learns your personal behavior patterns and adjusts temperatures so you’re not paying to keep the home comfortable when you’re not even at home. (I have yet to figure out why we like both SUVs and Nest Thermostats, but maybe one offsets the other.) And yes, I mention this because there’s a machine tool technology that operates in a very similar fashion.
At the Shop
At this writing the cost of energy is low enough one must ask, why is energy-efficiency so important? As a business owner every dollar counts. In order to keep a competitive edge we all need to make sure that that every dollar is stretched as far as possible. Indeed many companies are now asking machine tool builders about their ability to be “green”. At Okuma we’ve taken on the challenge of delivering energy-efficient technologies. Our new CNC control software called OSP suite has some very unique features that provide real cost savings for your energy consumption.
Intelligent Control Technology
Within OSP suite there’s a function called ECO suite. This gives our controller the intelligence to monitor the current running state of the machine and turn off unnecessary pumps, lights, and other energy consuming devices. When you go on break and that machine tool is idling it will automatically shut down hydraulic pumps, a chip conveyor and the air compressor. But even while all this is happening the machine keeps warm enough so the thermodynamics don’t change. ECO suite can also adapt so it can work while cutting is underway. For example, if it doesn’t need certain hydraulic pumps in its current process, it will shut them off or slow them down. All of this can add up to significant savings. (In the picture above you can see the ECO Power Monitor, which allows you to view how much energy is being saved, right on the machine’s display.)
A Question of When
It’s not a question of if; it’s a question of when. When will your competitor outbid you because they’ve leaned-out every single aspect of their operations, including their energy consumption? This won’t happen overnight, they’ll just quietly chip away until one day you’re losing business to them. Even if you don’t plan to use it yet, you owe it to yourself to at least take a look at Okuma’s ECO suite technology. Stop by and see us at IMTS this year and we’ll show you how it works, or contact your distributor anytime for a personal demo.
Jim King is President & COO, Okuma America Corporation.
More: Read our white paper, Energy-Efficient Machine Tool Technologies, for Any Size Shop