Conti Discusses South Africa Power Saving Programme
At its South African operations Continental Tyre SA has, over the course of three years, introduced a range of schemes that have seen power consumption reduced by 10 per cent. The company recently shared details of its activities in this area.
“To save electricity, we have a production monitoring system in the plant to monitor the energy systems and electricity use so that we can see peak demand, steam consumption and air pressures, for example,” commented plant engineering manager Andrew Singer. “We also have a project to improve the monitoring of incoming voltage, frequency and power usage so that we are consistently aware of the power we are using and its quality.”
Other measures have been introduced, including the replacement of all light fixtures throughout the facility with fluorescent tubes fitted with electronic ballasts. “We are working with Eskom (South Africa’s principal power supplier) on this project and have calculated that just by changing to these more efficient fluorescent light fittings, we will reduce our power usage by 4 per cent to 5 per cent. Lighting alone takes up 10 per cent of our electricity bill.”
Conti also introduced a ripple relay project after being approached by Eskom to run a pilot programme. “It works in the same way as the ripple signal sent down the power lines to switch off geysers in residential areas, which are fitted with the domestic ripple relay,” said Singer. “We plan to use ripple relays to switch off all non-essential loads, enabling the municipality to shed this load on demand. Non-essential loads include the geysers in bathrooms, air-conditioners in offices and office lighting where applicable. It is estimated that this will bring us a further potential electrical saving of up to 4 per cent of our base load. We are also looking at the potential to trigger the system internally to assist with lowering our peak demand.” Occupancy sensors that will switch of lights and air conditioners if no human activity is detected are also being considered.
These programmes were initially promoted as environmental and cost saving measures; it now transpires, however, that there is an additional and more pressing reason for the company’s interest in saving power. “The national power crisis has bought these issues to the public forum, which is a good thing,” Singer commented, adding that while the region where the company’s facilities are based have not “as yet” been affected as much as other regions, Continental is committed to reducing the overall load.