As a member of the European initiative "Blue Competence Machine Tools", GF Machining Solutions guarantees customers not only sustainable production but also efficient products. For this reason, the division continuously works to develop new solutions aimed at reducing the machines’ power consumption, thereby helping customers to improve their own energy and CO2 footprint.
Smart solutions for increased efficiency
Sustainable development in the sector //
In view of increasingly ambitious international targets for climate protection as well as rising energy costs, energy efficiency is becoming more and more important in the production industry – both in ecological and economic terms. This is why, as a leading worldwide provider of machine tools and automation solutions for the production of precision parts, molds, and dies, GF Machining Solutions has joined the initiative "Blue Competence Machine Tools". Within the framework of this initiative, European machine tool manufacturers have joined forces to promote sustainable development in their sector.
The main aim of “Blue Competence” is to develop environment-friendly products and solutions to help customers save energy costs and improve their CO2 footprint. To this effect, GF Machining Solutions has launched a project that sets out to further improve the energy efficiency of milling and EDM machines. “We’ve optimized our machines where we saw the greatest energy-saving potential”, explains Gary Cooper, Head of Development Projects with GF Machining Solutions in Nidau, Switzerland. In collaboration with all departments – from Research & Development to Production and Commissioning – his team examined the energy-wasting components in the machines and worked on the relevant solutions.
As much as four tons less CO2 //
One of these solutions is the new Econowatt module, which enables an entirely new and flexible standby mode in milling and EDM machines. The result: the machines consume virtually no power at all when idling. If the machine is needed again for production, an automatic warm-up program ensures that it is ready for operation at a time that can be programmed in advance. Users can choose between three different standby levels, depending on how much energy they want to save and what degree of precision they require. The earlier the warm-up starts, the greater the accuracy is right from the start. "This allows the customer to save energy flexibly without having to forego high precision", says Gary Cooper proudly.
“We use frequency-controlled pumps to provide the cooling lubricants for milling: they ensure the optimum operating point, thereby saving energy”, Cooper further explains. In addition, an optimized jet for extracting the oil-air mixture in the tool spindle uses around 57% less compressed air than before.
GF Machining Solutions has now also introduced LED bulbs for the workspace lighting and for the new signal lamps in the machines. These new modules enable a GF Machining Solutions milling machine to save up to four tons of CO2 per year when operated continuously.
Not only high-speed milling machines but also EDM machines help saving energy: new spark generators with resonance circuit enable significant savings. By this means GF Machining Solutions offers the most energy-efficient architecture currently available on the market.
The new energy-saving technologies are already applied to all high-precision series produced by GF Machining Solutions. All other machine series and newly developed products will likewise be fitted with the innovative solutions soon. All GF Machining Solutions products will thereby guarantee the very highest level of energy efficiency – at no extra cost to the customer: all the measures are applied on a price-neutral basis.
“The demand for energy-efficient machines has increased significantly in the last few years,” says Benoit Defrasne, Head of Milling Marketing & Product Management with GF Machining Solutions in Nidau (Switzerland). For Defrasne, as a sales specialist, the introduction of the machines with the “Blue Competence” label is a clear competitive advantage. In European industrial companies in particular, energy efficiency in machines is a key issue, he says, as sustainability is becoming an increasing concern, and the statutory requirements with regard to CO2 reduction are becoming more and more rigorous. “Worldwide, too, energy-saving machines are progressively more in demand in view of scarce resources and high energy prices”, says Defrasne.
The division will continue to optimize the sustainability of its products. The aim is to achieve a reduction in average energy consumption of 15% in the milling machines and 20% in the EDM machines. “Blue Competence provides the ideal framework for us to meet our own objective, which is to supply our customers with energy-saving and resource-friendly products”, says Defrasne.
Interview with Pascal Boillat, Head of GF Machining Solutions
Mr. Boillat, how important are energy-efficient machine tools for industry today?
Against the backdrop of global climate targets, limited resources and high energy costs, energy efficiency plays a crucial role in production. This is why we offer our customers machine tools, automation solutions, and services that combine technical and technological innovation with sustainability.
Why did GF Machining Solutions join the “Blue Competence” Alliance?
A company wanting to be well-established at a global level has to clearly emphasize its competitive advantages. The “Blue Competence” initiative is the ideal platform for us to communicate what we are capable of in terms of energy efficiency, resource conservation, and CO2 reduction under a recognized label. The fact that we have committed to meeting the industry’s uniform targets as part of the initiative provides us with additional motivation to improve our products and solutions on an ongoing basis.
How do customers benefit from “Blue Competence”?
The initiative’s targets clearly enhance transparency for customers. The label creates additional trust.
What other projects is GF Machining Solutions planning in connection with “Blue Competence”?
Our aim is to fit our entire range of milling and EDM machines with energy-saving modules. In addition to individual machines, however, we are increasingly starting to look at processes and automation solutions in production, too. Here, too, we can help our customers save energy and reduce emissions.
The “Blue Competence” initiative
The “Blue Competence Machine Tools” initiative aims to contribute significantly to meeting the European Union’s ambitious climate and energy targets. The project is already highly successful. Over 400 companies from the European machine tool industry have joined the initiative since 2012, as well as eight national associations. Together, the member companies have committed to concrete and verifiable sustainability targets. Every member must fulfill uniform criteria. These include clearly defined sustainability requirements and measures relating to both products and staff. When developing sustainable machines, for example, the entire life cycle of the equipment has to be taken into account. In addition to resource-friendly operation, targets include concepts for clean disposal as well. Moreover, members advise their customers on how to run the machines in an energy-efficient manner.