Continuously looking for opportunities to gain manufacturing efficiencies and implement sustainable practices, Fertigungstechnik NORD, a member of the NORD DRIVESYSTEMS Group, developed a concept for heat recovery from machine tools in its production areas.
Originally developed in 2012, the group—located in Gadebusch, Germany—has continued to use this recovered energy to heat the 20,000+ sq. ft. of its production, assembly, and office spaces. The recovered heat is also used to produce hot water within the facility, rather than using traditional water heating methods that aren't as environmentally friendly.
Many components for NORD drive solutions are produced in the Gadebusch facility, including housings, shafts, and gearing. Prior to 2012, the heat generated by the facility’s production machines had been dissipated directly into the surrounding environment by electrically powered cooling systems. In the summer months, this heat dissipation resulted in the five production halls becoming very hot, which led to the development of the heat recovery concept, which has since operated year-round.
More Than 80 Machines Connected
The Gadebusch heat recovery concept was implemented using plate-type heat exchangers coupled to the machines' various cooling systems with matching consumption capacities. The internal machine circuits are connected to an external circuit, which—being a cooling water circuit— dissipates excess heat and feeds it into a central heat recovery system.
Since implementing the system, Fertigungstechnik NORD has connected more than 80 machines, which are networked with the production department and production hall ventilation. Within the recovery system, two heat pumps generate hot water for heating the facility and the heat is dissipated from the production areas through three cooling devices.
Fertigungstechnik NORD has been continually investing in heat recovery initiatives since the system was first implemented. Currently, the production halls' temperatures are held at approximately 82°F, even at the height of summer. The system operates without additional heating when outdoor temperatures are above 32°F. If temperatures drop below 32°F, the system can use natural gas to ensure a baseline temperature of 66°F.
Currently, NORD saves approximately one-third of its former consumption of 583,000 kWh of fossil fuel-based energy. This corresponds to a reduced CO2 emission of approximately 117 metric tons.
In 2023, the shower water in the facility will be converted over to the heat recovery system, which will further reduce excess heat dissipating to the environment during the summer.
NORD is constantly improving and expanding the system to become less dependent on fossil fuels.