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Dr. Kuldip Singh Sangwan

Energy efficiency is an essential quality and cost feature of modern machine tools. Dr. Kuldip Singh Sangwan, "Shri B. K. Birla and Shrimati Sarala Birla Chair Professor", Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani (BITS Pilani), India shares with Pro-MFGmedia, the ways to achieve energy efficiency in the machine tool industry.

Energy is a key input for the manufacturing industry in addition to the material resources required. Currently, the industry is studying energy efficiency from two perspectives – environmental & cost. During the last ten years, the cost of energy has almost tripled, and the energy consumption throughout the world, including India, has increased to a great extent. For example, the energy consumption by Indian manufacturing was 5.5% in 2009, and it is expected to grow by 8.6% by 2035. Energy efficiency has become an integral part of the manufacturing industries to improve economic & environmental performance and increase competitiveness. Machine tools are not only the major energy consumer in the manufacturing industry but also have low efficiency. The reduction of 1% energy consumption for machine activities can save approximately 200 joules per year. The industry will save a significant amount of energy by saving 1% of the 33% reduction. Compared with the automotive industry, which is highly dependent on energy, and is usually lashed due to carbon emissions, the machine tool industry is not focused on energy efficiency.

The machine tool industry should focus on energy efficiency, and in the current scenario as 99% of the carbon emission of machine tools comes from electricity consumption. Fixed energy and variable energy are the two types of energy consumption. Since Taylor’s equation was introduced in 1907, numerous theories discuss the optimization of cutting parameters. However, the cutting parameters or variable energy consumes only 15% of energy, whereas fixed energy consumes 85% of energy.

Apparently, researchers have still not focused on reducing fixed energy consumption. It is essential to focus on this specific energy bracket, which will create an impactful difference in the industry. The savings from this 85% of fixed energy can be achieved by focusing on various factors such as different modeling of energy consumption, and strategies to work towards pragmatic solutions for energy efficiency.

Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Mechanical Engineering department has conducted immense research on green manufacturing or sustainable manufacturing. They have found various enablers for sustainable manufacturing or green manufacturing that broadly classifies as internal enablers. These enablers are based on government policies and economic drivers. All the classifications are carried out through empirical studies by Indians & Germans.

The team concluded that India & Germany face similar challenges, except one challenge, and Indian organizations should not assume that they face more challenges than developed countries to develop sustainable manufacturing. The lack of awareness/information, technological risk, and weak legislation are the three most important barriers to green manufacturing. The uncertain future legislation in the industry due to Immature developments in legislation; the possibility of completely new regulations in the future creates confusion. From an economic standpoint, green manufacturing is perceived as an expensive affair since its long-term benefits are still uncertain. However, certain studies prove that green manufacturing can lead to significant cost savings in the long run.

The uncertain benefits are the most critical barriers for green manufacturing. The benefits of green manufacturing are intangible as improvements due to green manufacturing are not quantified. Although since 3 – 4 years, some researchers have started to quantify the environmental benefits. Apart from these drivers, one of the drivers in the Indian context is the supply chain, and Indian organizations must focus on building sustainable manufacturing to improve the supply chain. Due to their competitive nature, German organizations implement sustainable manufacturing to improve their organizational competitiveness.