Amazon uses fulfilment centre rooftops to generate clean energy

Amazon has launched a solar energy initiative which will see the e-commerce company install solar systems on 50 fulfilment facility rooftops worldwide by 2020.
The initial 15 solar projects planned for completion by the end of 2017 will generate up to 41MW of power at Amazon facilities in California, New Jersey, Maryland, Nevada and Delaware. Depending on the specific project, time of year and other factors, the company reports that a solar installation could generate as much as 80 per cent of a single fulfilment facility’s annual energy needs. Solar panels installed on the rooftop of the fulfilment centre in Patterson, California, cover more than three-quarters of the 1.1 million square foot building’s rooftop and will power the hundreds of Amazon Robotics utilised by associates at ground-level.
“As our fulfilment network continues to expand, we want to help generate more renewable energy at both existing and new facilities around the world in partnership with community and business leaders,” said Dave Clark, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Operations, Amazon. “We are putting our scale and inventive culture to work on sustainability – this is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.”

Saving space and simplifying work

Seng Heng Engineering Pte Ltd, manufacturer of connectors for the petrochemical and offshore industry and for the energy sector, has chosen KASTO automated storage equipment for storing its raw material. 

The automatic UNITOP overhead storage system provides the Singapore company with clearly arranged and traceable storage of the up to 6-metre-long metal bars. The space required and the access times are therefore significantly less, and the work in the store is considerably reduced.

From nuts and bolts to finished components – Singapore-based Seng Heng Engineering Pte Ltd specialises in high-quality connectors for plant construction. The company focuses on the petrochemical and offshore industry and also the energy sector. Seng Heng products are incorporated, for example, in refineries, drilling rigs, power stations, FPSO vessels and submarine oil and gas pumping systems. The portfolio includes screw connectors, anchor bolts, fixing elements for pipelines and turbines, heavy-duty connectors for steel structures or submarine use, and corrosion-resistant coatings. Seng Heng can call upon 70 years of experience and now employs around 130 people. From its headquarters in Singapore, the specialist supplies numerous customers throughout the world – from Canada to Indonesia, from Europe and the Middle East to China.

Seng Heng procures the raw material for its wide product range in the form of bar stock with a length of up to 6 m. Among other things, the company processes various unalloyed and stainless steels as well as aluminium in different qualities. The bars are first put into store and subsequently formed as required using the latest machinery. “Our customers have very high expectations,” explains Operations Manager Shawn Tham. “We must be able to deliver all products anywhere in the world in the shortest possible time – and, because reliability is very important to the user, it must be possible to trace every part continuously.” Furthermore, Seng Heng not only offers a wide selection of normalised standard products, but also provides customised special solutions.

Efficient storage technology from Germany’s world market leader

In order to reliably fulfil these high demands, the connection specialist has chosen an automatic bar storage system from KASTO Maschinenbau GmbH & Co. KG for storing the raw material. The company, with its headquarters in Germany, is the world market and technology leader in sawing and storage equipment for metal bars. KASTO has also been active in South East Asia for many years; the company has had its own Sales and Service subsidiary in Singapore since October 2015. KASTO has supplied a UNITOP automatic high-bay warehouse for Seng Heng. With a height of 12 m, the overhead storage system provides space for 253 cassettes, each with a carrying capacity of up to three tonnes, in ten rows. Seng Heng stores around 80% of the required raw material in this system.

“The biggest advantage of the KASTO store is the enormous space-saving,” explains Shawn Tham. “In our previous, manually operated warehouse, we were only able to store five layers on top of one another – now it is 26.” The space required for the store has been reduced from 1,000 to 140 m². “This has enabled us to recover a large amount of valuable floor space for additional capacity,” enthuses Tham.

The characterising feature of the UNITOP bar store is the gantry crane which runs on top of the shelf block. This enables rapid access to the self-supporting cassettes. “The time to retrieve the furthest cassette is just three minutes,” says Tham, favourably impressed. “Previously it used to take us up to half an hour to get the required bar out of the store.” The automatic storage equipment also considerably reduces the amount of work required. Instead of four workers, Seng Heng now only needs two to operate the store. “This gives us more capacity for other activities,” stresses the Operations Manager.

Transparent and traceable stock holding

The computer-controlled storage system also gives a perfect overview of the stock holding at all times. Each material is stored in its own cassette and can be continuously traced by means of its heat number. “With our customers’ high quality standards, this is an important criterion,” comments Tham. The UNITOP store can also easily be operated using the FIFO (First In – First Out) principle. If several deliveries of the same material are held in the store, the oldest is retrieved first. “This prevents many bars remaining in stock too long and their quality deteriorating as a result,” explains Tham.

The Seng Heng Operations Manager is fully satisfied with the KASTO solution. “The automatic warehouse will enable us to continue to guarantee our high availability and adherence to delivery dates.” It has also made the internal working procedures considerably easier, faster and more reliable. “The investment has already paid for itself thanks to the shorter access times and the reduced working effort alone.”

Advanced Lighting Pro switches on

Designers searching for a practical and financially scalable lighting experience have settled on a new LED technology that will feature in future highly efficient, modern building designs.

LED lights are highly energy efficient, using approximately 85 per cent less energy than halogen or incandescent lighting –resulting in significant savings for the power bills of both companies and consumers.

These lights also have a much longer lifespan than other types of lighting, with an estimated 25,000-50,000 hour estimated lifespan depending on the light used.

In recent years LEDs have significantly improved their energy efficiency and colour accuracy, thanks to the advancing technology used for commercial and private buildings.

The new WaveMax technology by CREE aims to work around building codes that limit the use of lighting power used by buildings through a unique streamline design.

A combination of glare reduction, hot spot elimination, and uniform light distribution means that WaveMax LED’s can create visually comfortable environments which will not set commercial environments behind financially.

Further customisation of the release and control of the light can enable LEDs to maintain high levels of efficacy in a range of colour temperatures.

CREE have also committed to providing Parking Structure Luminaire technology for parking garage applications, which utilises the bright, uniform light for enhanced safety and visibility.

CREE executive Vice President, Norbert Hiller, calls WaveMax technology their “most intelligent light yet”, saying it will enable the future of highly efficient, modern building designs to be realised, without breaking the budget.

The luminaries can deliver more than 80 percent savings and quick payback of less than two years with once-a-day usage compared to metal halide lighting.

WaveMax’s high-performance lighting experience delivers by distributing visually comfortable light with exceptional uniformity, high efficiency, precise control and design appeal.

The IG Series LED luminaires are sleek, low-profile and light-weight making them the perfect solution for top grade parking facilities. It delivers high efficiency with beautiful light characteristics and colour accuracy, while also maintaining colour consistency over the life of the product.

Together with Advanced Lighting Technologies, CREE are committed to providing the building design industry with solutions to common lighting problems.

Don’t get burnt by gas price rises: tips for industry

Gas prices are on the rise, starting tomorrow with a 17.8% increase this year in New South Wales, with other parts of eastern Australia expected to follow in coming years. That means it’s a crucial time for Australian industry to ask how they could be cutting their gas costs, especially by finding ways to use energy more efficiently.

Typical annual gas bills will rise by between A$155 and A$225 for NSW households depending on where people live and how much gas they use. That’s according to the independent NSW price regulator IPART, which approved the increase.

Elsewhere, many other Australian businesses are bracing themselves for higher energy costs as the development of LNG exports looks set to push up domestic gas prices. The eastern coast of Australia will be particularly affected, with the start up of Queensland LNG exports due later this year, just as a wave of existing domestic supply contracts are set to expire and need to be renewed. The effect will be felt almost immediately.

So which households and industries are most likely to feel the burn of the gas price hikes? And what can you do to reduce these energy costs at  a high-energy industry?

Saving gas for industry

In the industrial sector, gas is used in large volumes for various purposes including heat as well as electricity.

However prices for industrial users, which have typically ranged between A$3.50 and A$4 a gigajoule, have surged to about A$8 for some short-term contracts.

Some analysts are warning prices could temporarily spike above A$10 before moderating again to a level substantially higher than previously.

The Altona Refinery, which supplies half of Victoria’s fuel needs.
eidlog42/Flickr, CC BY-NC

The industries more sensitive to gas price hikes are the chemicals, glass, fertilizer and refining industries, as gas represents a significant portion of their cost of production.

There have been some predictions that an increase in wholesale gas prices could cause a number of companies in these industries to curtail or even close production. However, there is considerable potential to save gas in industrial production.

So what can these gas-intensive industries do? Our research found that companies accounting for more than half of Australia’s total energy consumption have reported energy efficiency projects that could save up to 15% of their total gas use, lowering energy costs by more than $400 million and cutting emissions by 5 million tonnes a year.

Those cost savings will be even higher as gas prices increase. The energy efficiency improvements could free up to 92 petajoules of gas a year within manufacturing and 104 petajoules overall. To put that in perspective, NSW’s entire annual gas consumption is about 150 petajoules, so that could be a significant saving for Australia.

Opportunities for industry to reduce their gas use include:

  • Improvements to operational processes, such as upgrading technologies, including metering, controls, load optimisation activities;
  • Improving process design;
  • Equipment upgrades for heating and boiler systems; and
  • Changes to staff behaviour and maintenance practices.

Of the gas savings identified, more than 40% have a payback period for business of less than two years.

Gas prices can indeed affect household budgets and companies’ bottom line. However, Australian households and businesses can take action to reduce their gas use and save money on their energy bills. Doing so will also help reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, which is good for all of us in the longer-term.

The Conversation

Anna Skarbek does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

This article was originally published in full on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

SCLAA commences energy saving workshops

The Supply Chain & Logistics Association of Australia is rolling out its Energy Efficiency workshops at aimed helping SMEs reduce their energy costs.

The free workshops will be held in 22 regional and rural areas over the next seven months and will provide companies who store and transport goods the information they need become more efficient.

“This will enable them to lower their cost of doing business and improve their competitive advantage,” the SCLAA said.

To assist SMEs most workshops will start at 7.30am and conclude by 10.30am and will also be available by webinar. 

The SCLAA is also creating an online interactive tool which will provide businesses with a four-step guide on ow to identify and implement energy saving opportunities.

The resource, which will be available by the end of February, features an energy saving calculator that covers transport, warehouse, cool rooms / freezers and materials handling aspects of businesses.

Companies will also be able to download fact sheets, how to guides, case studies, examples of suppliers and details on grants available to SME’s.

To register for a workshop or webinar, please go to the SCLAA website and click on the GREEN icon or go to the following link

Energy efficiency is driving Australia’s chemical manufacturers to increase automation

The need for energy efficiency in the numerous critical and energy-consuming operations of the chemical and petrochemical manufacturers is lending impetus to the automation and software solutions market in Southeast Asia (SEA), Australia and New Zealand (ANZ).

Environmental regulations that require plants to reduce their carbon footprint also result in upgrades to control systems. Coupled with the growing focus on safety, this is boosting the SEA and ANZ automation and software solutions market in chemical and petrochemical plants.

Analysis of the SE Asia and ANZ Automation & Software Solutions Market for the Chemical & Petrochemical Industry, finds that the market earned revenues of US$195.0 million in 2012 and estimates this to reach US$270.4 million in 2019.

“With most chemical and petrochemical plants running continuously throughout the year with no allowance for downtime, there is a need for highly redundant systems,” said Frost & Sullivan Industrial Automation and Process Control Research Analyst Vineeth Purushotham.

“As a result, automation solutions such as distributed control systems are becoming popular owing to their redundancy and higher availability.”

The growing trend of shifting chemical and petrochemical plants to lower-cost, higher-output countries such as Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia also provides significant opportunities for automation manufacturers in SEA.

However, plants in ANZ are also moving their operations to othe lower-cost countries such as India and China, which could curb market potential.

In addition, the lack of skilled labour for the installation and maintenance of automation systems in the chemical and petrochemical industry deters end users from shifting away from traditional legacy systems. Multinational automation vendors are looking to address this challenge by leveraging their talent pool from across the globe.

“Adopting the Main Automation Contractor (MAC) approach will ensure the training of personnel working on automation,” noted Purushotham. “End users also prefer the MAC model as this single point of contact is the most convenient way to meet all their automation needs,” he added.

Automation manufacturers in SEA and ANZ will also be scouting for mergers and acquisitions in a bid to provide integrated solutions and appeal to a larger consumer base.

[This analysis has been provided by Frost & Sullivan.]


The roadmap for the third industrial revolution [video]

Schneider Electric and economist Jeremy Rifkin discuss the challenges the world faces as it enters the third industrial revolution.

In the discussion he outlines our current economic and energy hurdles and provides a potential roadmap for our third industrial revolution.

Japanese Toyota plant looks to alternatives to nuclear energy

A Toyota plant in the north-east of Japan has converted to gas and solar energy following the Fukushima nuclear accident and producing 100,000 sedan vehicles a year.

AFP reports that the factory in Miyagi prefecture operates a gas-fired generator, with the heat created from burning gas also used to dry paint on cars.

Water heated by the turbines for the 7,800 kilowatt gas plant is also used in a nearby greenhouse, which grows vegetables for sale.

According to the report, solar power is also part of the Toyota plant’s energy mix, and linkage to the local grid would allow it to provide energy to the nearby video in case of an emergency.

Nuclea power provides about a third of Japan’s energy, though the 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster led to a temporary hold on their operations and a re-think on where the country’s energy could be coming from.

“The country is now on track to lead thesolar energy market this year, some analysts say, while the world’s largest offshore wind farm is being built off the battered northeast coast,” AFP notes.

Automotive rivals to Toyota, such as Honda in Yorii and Mitsubishi in Kyoto have also made a switch to solar and gas energy.


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