Energy is one of the biggest costs for a blow molding operation. When your Sidel SBO 40 stretch blow molding machines are cranking out 40,000 bottles an hour 24/7, and demand 192kW per hour each, the dollars spent producing infrared heat are astronomical. Every company wants to shave this cost wherever possible.
Blow molding ovens produce infrared heat instantaneously to soften plastic PET preforms prior to being introduced to the mold for blowing and shaping into a container. In a perfect and efficient world, the ovens would only produce as much heat as needed for this operation. But in the real world, a great deal of this infrared heat is wasted, lost to the surfaces in the oven and not fully directed at the preform. In fact, it’s not unusual for an oven to consume 230kw to get the job done. However, if that excess infrared heat can be redirected at the preform, significant energy cost savings and infrared heat lamp maintenance savings will follow.
Naturally, blow molding machine manufacturers have long considered this fact about ovens. Reflectors in each oven attempt to make use of as much lost infrared heat as possible by redirecting it back at the preform. But as blow molding ovens age and energy efficiency decreases, there is a solution, i.e. better oven bank designs and materials developed to make full use of infrared heating and eliminate energy waste. Unfortunately, many blow molding operations aren’t even aware of the fact that their ovens are grossly inefficient as compared to the potential energy savings now available from new technology such as that offered by the Technoplan TOEO system.
How to Achieve Blow Molding Oven Energy Optimization
At a sustainability conference in 2017, Connell Industries suggested an energy saving solution to Southeastern Container: Replace the OEM oven banks in your Sidel SBO 40 preform oven with Technoplan’s TOEO ceramic reflectors and save 25-30% on oven heating energy costs. The Technoplan TOEO system (Technoplan Oven Energy Optimization) includes reflectors made of high-performance ceramic material with treated surfaces, designed to enhance infrared light/heat reflection to optimize the heating of the preforms while using less energy. The TOEO system delivers:
• A decrease in oven power consumption from 20-35%
• Savings in energy costs due to the reduced electricity consumption of the oven
• Easier profiling and a better process window
• Lower maintenance costs – zero costs on the ceramic reflectors and longer operating life on infrared lamps
• Less than 18 months return on investment
• May qualify for utility energy efficiency rebates, further reducing payback time
Southeastern Container immediately contracted with Connell to install TOEO oven banks in (2) of their blow molders located in their Winchester, VA plant. Upon confirmation of the order with Technoplan Engineering, a pre-installation inspection was scheduled for a Technoplan technician to inspect and measure each machine’s oven. This was to prepare the oven section for the new TOEO oven banks and to collect actual measurements and dimensions to ensure the TOEO oven banks were exactly and precisely built to specification.
The inspection also looked for any misalignments or preexisting damage to the oven section, so it could be repaired prior to delivery of the TOEO units. Once the TOEO units were delivered, the assigned Technoplan technician easily swapped out a total of 36 Sidel oven banks with brand new TOEO oven banks in just 8 hours per machine. That short time span is due to the fact that the TOEO oven banks are designed to easily replace OEM oven banks with a minimum of work or retrofit needed – essentially plug and play.
Upon testing the ovens after the TOEO installation, the savings were:
• Oven consumption in kW before TOEO installation: 192 kW
• Oven consumption in kW after TOEO installation: 151 kW
• Electricity saved: 41kW
• Oven energy cost savings: 24.11%
Along with the previous installation of Technoplan’s Air Recovery System (ARS) to recycle and reuse the blow molder’s compressed air to reduce the load on the plant air compressors, Southeastern Container’s blow molding plant is now realizing the optimum in energy efficiency by completely upgrading their blow molding machines with the latest energy-saving technologies