Sustainability in automation

Automation solutions may enable faster, more flexible and more cost-efficient production, but they also consume a great amount of energy – whether to generate compressed air in pneumatic systems or to operate electric components. We can help you make your automation as energy-efficient and CO2-neutral as possible, for example with the energy efficiency modules MSE6 or our Energy Saving Services, which are certified by the German Technical Control Board (TÜV). You can potentially save up to 60% on energy. Why not do something positive for your business and for the environment? We’ll show you how to do this.

Join us on the path to a sustainable future

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly important purchasing criterion. These are the measures we are taking to move towards a sustainable future together with you:

  • As a company, we are becoming increasingly energy-efficient and will be completely CO₂-neutral by 2024.
  • At the same time, we offer CO₂-optimised products and support you with services throughout the entire usage phase.
  • With our expertise in pneumatics and electrics, we can provide you with technology-independent advice and help you save as much CO₂ as possible using smart innovations.
  • Our energy efficiency modules and our Energy Saving Services certified by the German Technical Control Board (TÜV) help you to save costs and energy.
  • Controlled Pneumatics makes another significant contribution to sustainable production with an energy-saving potential of up to 70% at low additional purchase costs.

Products for sustainable operation

You can find our complete sustainable product portfolio in our Online Shop under Factory Automation, Process Automation and LifeTech Automation.

Take a look at our highlight products here:

Save energy with good design

Reduce energy consumption by up to 40% with the right sizing

Your applications are most efficient when they are tailored exactly to your individual requirements. By selecting the right technology and optimally sizing components, you will create the framework for long-term energy savings. And this process is made even easier with our numerous engineering tools.

Pneumatic or electric – what is more efficient?

Sustainability in automation starts right at the design stage of your system. By choosing the right drive technology, you can ensure that the system is as energy-efficient as possible throughout its service life. Criteria such as dynamic response, force, control characteristics, rigidity under load and, of course, economic efficiency always play an important role here. An appropriate combination of both technologies is, in many cases, the best solution.

Energy-efficient handling system

Electric – energy-efficient for dynamic motion
Electric automation technology offers energy-efficient solutions for highly dynamic, linear or rotary multi-axis movements in flexible configurations – with excellent accuracy and great force.

Pneumatic – energy-efficient holding, tensioning and clamping
This cost-effective and low-maintenance technology enables energy-efficient movement between two end positions, for example in holding, tensioning, clamping and pressing applications. The simple and sturdy pneumatics technology can be found in nearly all segments of the automation industry.

Controlled Pneumatics – regulating energy-efficient flow rate, pressure and movement
Targeted dosing of compressed air opens up great potential for you to save energy. You can ensure that each work has the maximum possible output while using a minimum amount of compressed air requirement. This saves up to 50% on compressed air. Find out more about Controlled Pneumatics.

Servo-pneumatics – energy-efficient for large loads
If you need to position heavy loads from 15 kg to 300 kg, servo-pneumatics is an energy-efficient and attractively priced solution. Drive packages based on this technology are characterised by fast switching from position control to force control and gentle travel to different positions.

More support with selecting the right technology is available in the Automation Guide (PDF)

Or you can read our white paper "Pneumatics or electrics" (PDF)

What are your application’s CO2 values and TCO?

CO2 TCO tool from Festo

Before choosing the technology for your system, you should know how high the CO2consumption will be in the operating phase and what you can expect the total cost of ownership (TCO) to be in the future.

Our CO2 & TCO Guide enables you to compare electric and pneumatic drives from our product portfolio. The tool provides a clear comparison of the energy consumption, CO2emissions, the procurement costs and the total cost of ownership and so offers you a valuable decision-making support based on the key factors.

Launch CO2 and TCO Guide

Find the right product quickly and easily

Engineering on a laptop

Intelligent engineering design focuses on perfectly adjusting the size of components and on selecting the optimal controller concept.

Our digital engineering tools make it easier to create an energy-efficient design for your systems. Tailoring the size of the pneumatic drives to fit the requirements can save up to 40% of an application’s air consumption. Evaluation matrices, cost calculators and simulation software help you to make the right decisions from the start and to optimise the systems for your specific applications.

To the engineering tools overview

Sustainability in basic and further training: green skills

Energy efficiency and sustainability start in the minds of your employees. Festo Didactic is the world’s leading specialist in technical education. We teach the specialists of today and tomorrow the knowledge and skills they need to identify potential savings in their work and incorporate them systematically, from the design of your systems through to day-to-day operation.

Thanks to green skills, you promote the development of a qualified workforce in relevant areas of the labour market:

  • Production of electric vehicles and batteries
  • Renewable energy generation
  • Water management
  • Sustainable production

Top tips for greater energy efficiency

There are many ways to significantly increase energy efficiency and thus also the productivity of your systems, from the comprehensive planning of new systems to simple measures during operation. The following energy-saving tips for pneumatic and electric automation solutions will help you move much closer to the goal of CO2-neutral production.

Choose the right components

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Energy efficiency measures start at the planning stage. Carefully selecting the right drive type for the application is crucial. Single-acting cylinders or a pressure-reduced return stroke can noticeably decrease compressed air consumption. Or use pressure regulating plates and pressure regulators. For long periods of standstill, servo/stepper motors with a holding brake are recommended, for example.

Festo engineering tools help you to select the right product for your application.

Sizing to suit requirements

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Energy consumption depends largely on the design of the drives. Oversized drives should be avoided at all costs. The smaller the drive, the more energy-efficient it is.

  • Make sure you select the safety factors correctly and keep moving masses low. For pneumatic drives, this can save up to 40% of the air consumption for an application.
    An example: for standards-based cylinder DSBC, reducing the size from 40 to 32 results in an energy saving of approx. 35%.
  • By designing the drive system as a whole and thus selecting the optimum size, you will avoid an accumulation of safety factors. The Festo engineering tools help you do this. These include practical calculators, simulation software and configuration tools, such as the Electric Motion Sizing design and simulation tool, the Simplified Motion Series solution finder or our Handling Guide Online (HGO).

Save on weight

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It takes energy to move weight. You should therefore keep moving masses low, for example by ensuring everything is correctly sized, by combining components and by choosing lightweight products.

  • If the payload and cycle times of your application allow, you can opt for a technology mix by combining an electric handling system with a lightweight pneumatic Z-axis.
  • Pneumatic grippers are lighter than electric grippers. This saves weight and energy in moving applications.
  • Lightweight products don’t just reduce energy consumption. Because lightweight products need less material, they also have a better CO2 footprint.

Minimise friction

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The lower the friction, the lower the loss of energy and the longer the lifespan. It is best to use low-friction components to ensure sustainable operation.

  • Our pneumatic mini slides DGSL or DGST move extremely accurately and with minimal friction.
  • You should service electric drives and axes regularly to reduce frictional losses.
  • Always check whether a gear unit is really necessary or if you can do without it.

Recover energy

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In many applications, electric drives not only have to accelerate masses, they have to actively decelerate them too. The braking energy can be reused under certain circumstances to save electrical energy, for example with a DC link coupling.

In applications in which the acceleration and deceleration phases of different drives take place simultaneously, you can couple the intermediate circuits of the controller and store the braking energy there. The motor controller CMMT-AS helps you do this.

Switch off energy as often as possible

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In some work cycles, the energy supply can be temporarily stopped – for zero energy consumption and zero leakage.

  • Switch off the air supply whenever possible, for example during machine standstills, at the end of shifts or during breaks. This happens automatically with our energy efficiency module from the MSE6 series.
  • To prevent non-productive idling, it should be possible to switch off the entire system, as well as individual units or components. Make sure you use a safe sequence for shutdown and start-up.

Efficient control and regulation

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In electric automation technology, optimum controller settings with flat acceleration ramps reduce energy consumption and minimise vibrations.

  • You can use our Festo Configuration Tool FCT configuration and commissioning software to set good control behaviour for axis systems with little vibration and few controller interventions. A rigidly assembled axis and motor also plays an important role.
  • Digitised pneumatics with the Motion Terminal VTEM offers a wide range of motion apps to control the connected pneumatic drive components as energy-efficiently as possible.

Use air-saving circuits

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Constant vacuum pressure is not absolutely necessary for reliably holding objects. Continuous air consumption can be avoided by using an air-saving circuit, especially with smooth surfaces and non-porous material. The aim is to use a vacuum only when needed.

The vacuum generator OVEM and vacuum generator VADMI with intelligent vacuum monitoring generate a vacuum only when it is needed and can switch off automatically. The savings amount to roughly 60% of previously required compressed air volumes.

Reduce the pressure level

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There are different ways to reduce the pressure level and therefore also reduce energy costs.

  • An unnecessarily high pressure level across the entire network requires a lot of energy. By reducing the system pressure by 1 bar, you can save up to 10% on the total energy consumed.
  • Some machines require a constant minimum pressure level. If individual applications require a higher pressure level at certain points, this can be supplied decentrally with the pressure booster DPA, for example, instead of increasing the pressure in the entire supply network.
  • If an application requires the full force only in one direction of movement or if the drive can generally be operated with a lower pressure, the pressure for the return stroke can easily be reduced by half. This is especially easy to achieve if valve terminals with vertical stacking/regulator plates are used. Compressed air consumption can be reduced by more than 20% by using our regulator plates VMPA1 and VABF.

Reduce pressure loss

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Correct compressed air preparation not only increases the service life of components and systems, it also increases productivity and energy efficiency. This is where care and attention pay off in the long run. Our service unit component MS series offers suitable solutions, also in a mix of sizes.

  • Sizing the compressed air preparation system appropriately is important, also when it comes to the service unit components. Check that filters are used wisely, because every filter stage reduces the flow rate and increases the pressure drop.
  • Regular maintenance and correctly selected compressed air quality can reduce energy consumption during compressed air preparation by up to 20%. Timely replacement of filter elements in service units prevents unnecessary flow resistance.
  • It‘s advisable to use fittings with minimal flow resistance in the piping system. The lines that feed into the systems and the valves or valve terminals should be large enough to prevent pressure losses.
  • Use multiple distributors, instead of stringing T-branches together. This reduces the pressure drop.

You can find out more about selecting the optimum service unit combination in our white paper "Compressed air preparation in pneumatics (PDF)"

Reduce tube lengths

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Many tubes between valves and actuators are too long and increase the compressed air consumption through what is known as dead volume. This non-productive air also has a negative impact on the system's cycle times. The dead volume in the tubing frequently accounts for a large percentage of overall consumption, especially in drives or grippers with a small volume.

  • Make sure the tubing lengths are kept as short as possible and are optimally installed. Above all, we recommend positioning valve terminals decentrally.
  • Use suitable tools for cutting compressed air tubing to length, such as the pipe and tubing cutter ZRS to ensure tight connections and prevent leakage.

Reduce leakage

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Always remember that undiscovered leakage cause unnecessary energy costs around the clock. We know from experience that leakage rates can be reduced by up to 20% in existing systems. That is why it is important to check the compressed air system regularly and check for leakage.

  • With our Energy Saving Services, we detect leakage for you quickly and reliably – and put a stop to compressed air losses.
  • Moisture, contamination and oil have a negative effect on seals and wash the initial lubrication out of the components. That’s why we recommend using decentralised compressed air preparation directly at the system.
  • Choose tubing materials that are appropriate for the environment. This will prevent chemical, physical and microbial damage and therefore leakage.
  • Fittings with modern sealing rings and support functions ensure leakproof, reusable connections.

You can find even more potential energy savings for compressed air systems in our white paper "Reduce energy costs in compressed air systems by up to 60%" (PDF)

Continuously monitor compressed air

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Install a continuous energy monitoring system and monitor your compressed air consumption. In principle, every single form of energy should be monitored by sensor technology; in pneumatics, this is primarily done with flow sensors.

  • Using flow measurements, you can quickly and easily identify deviations from the ideal state, for example due to leakage or pressure losses. You can then use this knowledge to introduce the right energy-saving measures.
  • Continuous compressed air monitoring instantly makes compressed air consumption transparent. If the flow value is too high, this can often indicate a saving potential.
  • Monitor air consumption so that you can take action in the event of deviations. Continuous compressed air monitoring makes for continuous reliability.
  • Make use of predictive energy management. Using artificial intelligence, it is possible to predictively calculate how the state of your systems will change over time. We do this by using our Festo Automation Experience (Festo AX) software.

Would you like to know more? Then you can download our 144-page Energy Saving (PDF) brochure with tips and tricks for each product category.
Simple and advanced application solutions help you to make optimum use of your compressed air components and keep your energy consumption down.

You can rely on the technical experts and efficient technologies from Festo to ensure that your machines and systems consume fewer resources and less energy in future. This will reduce not only CO2emissions, but also your operating costs – while simultaneously increasing the sustainability of your production processes and your company’s productivity. You can find our knowledge, our experience and our products in the Energy efficiency@Festo (PDF) manual.