Category: 2020, Reisner

Refrigeration technology for the production of precision parts: reliable processes and economical cooling

LANG+MENKE GmbH wants to expand its production and relies on an efficient container cooling system made by Reisner Cooling Solutions

New refrigeration technology instead of the old R22 system: The system with a rotating screw compressor, Vario technology and R513A as the refrigeration offers numerous advantages for the company as well as the environment.

The market for precision parts is subject to increasingly stringent requirements: The users expect a high production quality with minimum tolerances. To ensure a high quality level, the manufacturers require high-performance technology and optimum production conditions. In this context, the refrigeration technology plays an essential role as it ensures consistent parameters and a high level of process reliability. The example of LANG+MENKE GmbH, a manufacturer of precision parts, shows that investments into modern cooling solutions will pay off within a very short period. For a production expansion project, the company invested in a container cooling system made by Reisner Cooling Solutions GmbH, a subsidiary of technotrans SE. Thanks to the new system, LANG+MENKE can reduce its energy costs by a five-digit figure, has sufficient backup capacity for the future and gains valuable space as the system is set up outside of the production building.

LANG+MENKE GmbH with its headquarters in Hemer in the German Sauerland region has grown continuously since its foundation. Today, approximately one billion precision stampings leave the production area of the company every year. The products are used in vehicles and various household appliances. Last year, which was very successful, was dominated by strategic changes with a strong effect on the production. To account for the strong growth in the cleaning sector, for example, LANG+MENKE purchased several new machines, e.g. a new barrel finishing system and a degreasing system. The purchase decision was based on the production and workplace conditions on site: Perfectly adapted enclosures for the machines ensure clean air and low noise levels. This improves the working conditions for the machine operators.

The precision parts are manufactured in several steps: The parts are blanked, cleaned, deburred and heat-treated. For all processes requiring the removal of heat, LANG+MENKE relies on refrigeration technology made by Reisner. Due to the production expansion, the need for efficient cooling also increased. This is why area manager Torsten Simmert, who has been working for the company for 33 years, has focused on the refrigeration technology. "2019 was a wild year for us," explains Simmert. "We had several new systems to put into operation and, while doing so, we quickly realised that the existing refrigeration technology was not up to the task. We needed more refrigeration capacity and it was important that the new system would be easy to integrate into our changed production space."

More refrigeration capacity and protection of our climate
While the new cooling solution had to provide more refrigeration capacity, safety was another concern for LANG+MENKE, as the existing system of the company has partly used the refrigerant R22. However, this refrigerant was phased out in 2015 as per EU Regulation 517/2014. R22 systems can still be used, but breaking into the refrigerant circuits or supplying the system with the refrigerant is no longer permitted. As a result, it would have been impossible to repair the system in the event of a breakdown and a production shutdown would have been inevitable. The new solution, on the other hand, uses the refrigerant R513A. It offers numerous advantages: It has a lower GWP value (global warming potential) and, therefore, it is comparatively environmentally friendly. In addition, R513A is non-flammable, safe refrigerant. Unlike flammable refrigerants, it is subject to less stringent regulations in terms of its handling as well as the maintenance intervals and compulsory leak tests of the system. This saves time and money.

Furthermore, the new system had to be of a sufficient size to provide sufficient capacities for any future growth of the company. As a result, the entire concept had to be well-balanced in order to make room for a certain level of backup capacity without overburdening the system. Due to the strategic importance of the system, the area management, operations management and company management teams were working hand in hand right from the planning phase onward. The decision for a refrigeration expert as a partner was made during the early stages of the project. "We have been using refrigeration technology made by Reisner for a very long time and we are always highly satisfied," remembers Simmert. "Each and every refrigeration system provided by Reisner had a very long service life and we always knew we were in very good hands. During the quotation phase, Reisner suggested a container solution with numerous extra features. The company management was right on board and clearly convinced by the suggested solution. The decision was unanimous and we have chosen the most extensive variant that we are very happy with today."

Process reliability thanks to consistent parameters
During the planning phase of the refrigeration system for LANG+MENKE GmbH, the Reisner team led by managing director Thomas Imenkämper designed a container with a length of 10 m and a width of 3 m as a mobile, external machine enclosure. Reisner then equipped the container with part of the existing refrigeration system as well as with a new refrigeration system, tank system, pumps and control cabinet. While the old R22 system had an output of 100 kW, the new machine has an output of 150 kW. As the system does not have to run close to its power limits, its service life will be longer.

The fact that the system is integrated in a container also has a positive effect on the service life. "In the past, the refrigeration technology was located in the production building without any additional enclosure and so it was subject to all types of environmental influences, e.g. worn-off floor particles or pollen that entered the building through open doors during summer," explains Simmert. "We are now thoroughly protecting our refrigeration system against these influences as well as against the incidence of light and temperature fluctuations." The Reisner container is perfectly insulated and equipped with an electric heating system for maintaining the correct temperature during winter.

Space-saving solution thanks to an outdoor setup
As the refrigeration system is set up outside of the production building, the resulting free space is now used as a new storage area for finished parts. In the future, the area will be used as a supply area for one of the salt kilns. For metalworking companies, storage areas are particularly valuable since hardened and non-hardened parts must be stored separately. As a result, LANG+MENKE decided to prepare an unused, narrow strip behind the production building for the new system. Only a foundation had to be poured. Reisner supplied a turnkey container including the necessary cables and pipes. After the connection to the mains power and cold water supply in the production area, the refrigeration system was ready for use.

If needed, the refrigeration system can be easily relocated and used in a different location thanks to its closed design. The employees benefit from a lower noise level in the production area as a result of the outdoor setup. However, even if the system was used inside the building, the noise level of the new refrigeration system would still be low as it is equipped with speed-controlled components and modern, electronically controlled EC fans with a particularly low noise level compared to the old system.

Reduction of energy costs by a five-digit figure
The production of precision stampings and, in particular, the hardening systems consume a lot of energy. A sustainable concept and continuous improvement play an important role for LANG+MENKE which is certified as per IATF 16949 and also as per the environmental management system DIN ISO 14001. This is why the energy efficiency is an essential criterion for the company. Reisner routinely integrates energy-saving technologies into its systems in order to considerably reduce the current consumption and operating costs. The container solution, for example, includes a new dry cooler with a refrigeration output of 250 kW. During winter, this dry cooler takes over the complete load of the two systems and supports them in-between seasons. As a result, the compressor energy for the two refrigeration systems is reduced by 100%. The resulting reduction of the electrical work is in the range of 219,000 kWh or €33,000 per year based on the current electricity costs.

Another advantage is the use of the so-called Vario technology. This Reisner technology is used to adapt the condensation temperature of the system to the usual ambient temperature on site so that only the electricity that is really needed is consumed. Compared to conventional systems without the Vario technology, this results in additional annual savings of 64,400 kWh or €10,000 in electricity costs. LANG+MENKE records these real-life savings continuously. Simmert precisely captures all of the relevant performance indicators with a new energy consumption monitoring system and uses these numbers to derive additional parameters, e.g. the CO2 output per kilogram of material used for production.

Dynamic partnership
The modernisation project marks another milestone in the long-standing partnership and cooperation between LANG+MENKE and Reisner. From the performance measurements and determination of the requirements at the start of the project up to the uncomplicated commissioning of the system, the entire project was handled perfectly for LANG+MENKE thanks to Reisner. "In this sensitive field, we must completely rely on the supplier," says Simmert. "With Reisner, we know that their service teams are always there for us without delay in an emergency. When it comes to routine maintenance, we see the fact that the service technicians of Reisner know our system from day one as a clear and important advantage. As a result, we are confident that our refrigeration systems will run as economically and reliably in the future as they do now."

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