Higher Resource Prices Will Change Machine Automation Design

Despite recent dips, it's apparent that energy and raw material prices have risen to new and permanently higher plateaus. It's also apparent that these higher prices will have a profound affect on machine design over the next few years in ways that are sometimes obvious but oft obscure.

Let's start with energy prices, an item that is foremost in the minds of many machine builders. “Energy cost has always been in the equation, but now it's percentage of the total cost has risen at an alarming rate,” says Paul Brancaleone, manager software/controls at Gloucester Engineering in Gloucester, MA.

Gloucester Engineering makes plastics processing equipment, specifically film and sheet extrusion systems. “A growing number of our customers are now interested in reducing the energy that our machines consume. Amongst the normal questions on throughput and quality, we now are asked to estimate lbs/kWh. I expect to see more use of power measurements to optimize processes and of advanced control techniques to reduce energy use,” adds Brancaleone.