Plansee says that it has reduced energy consumption in its production processes by improving temperature setting.

According to the company, many of its current products are annealed using electrically-heated high-temperature furnaces with the temperature that must be achieved preset for each heating zone. However, it difficult to measure the temperature (up to 1800⁰C) of the heat-treated objects directly. As a result, the annealing process can be too long, wasting time and energy.

To improve this process, Plansee and the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology launched a project, called ThermoTec, to develop an algorithm using measurements, analyses, and modeling which could more reliably set the desired minimum annealing time for any load.

According to the company, testing the algorithm in more than 230 annealing operations on a furnace over the course of a year revealed that the holding time of the process could be reduced by 20% on average, with product quality unchanged. The total duration of the process was reduced by almost 12%.

"The process ensures precise adherence to the minimum annealing time, which results in energy savings and thus heating costs, as well as improved throughput with consistently high quality," said Tobias Glück, head of the competence unit at Plansee.

"The new algorithm can be integrated into the existing furnace control and can therefore be transferred to other furnaces with ease," added Bernhard Mayr-Schmölzer, project manager at Plansee.