A recent plant-wide assessment at Metaldyne’s forging operation in Royal Oak, MI, focused on improving the overall efficiency of the plant and on reducing costs, inventory, and energy use. The assessment team uncovered 21 specific opportunities to reduce energy use at the plant by more than 11 million kWh per year and to trim its annual energy and operating costs by an estimated $12.6 million.
The assessment team concentrated on the equipment and systems that used the most energy. They looked at the induction heaters for the hot-forging machines, the warm-forging press, the hot-forging vertical press, the hot ring rollers, electric motors, material handling equipment, heating and cooling equipment, and lighting. The team also examined the product inventory and the potential for reducing or eliminating costly defects. Their evaluation also included the potential for incorporating demand-side energy management, lean manufacturing techniques, best practices, emerging technologies, and potential supply-side improvements into Metaldyne’s forging operations.
In one example, the assessment team noted that several presses at the plant use a continuous stream of compressed air blown through two open pipes to detach parts from the dies. The team recommended installing air-saver, high-thrust nozzles on the air lines to reduce the plant’s use of compressed air, and thus its operating costs. At an estimated capital cost of $400, this single improvement could reduce the plant’s annual operating costs as much as $64,000 and lower its electricity use by an impressive 953,000 kWh.
Metaldyne, Incorporated, is said to be the largest independent forging company in North America. Its products include wheel hubs, spindles, rolled rings, and transmission and differential gears. It operates more than 50 facilities throughout the world and employs nearly 8,500 people.