Sustainability in automation

Automation solutions enable you to produce faster, more flexibly and more economically – but they also consume energy. Whether for the generation of compressed air in pneumatic systems or for the operation of electrical components. We support you in making your automation as energy-efficient and CO2-neutral as possible: for example, with the MSE6 energy efficiency modules or our TÜV-certified Energy Saving Services. Savings potential of up to 60% can even be achieved. Do something good for your company and our environment. Here, we show you how to do it.

Quadruple sustainability

Festo has been pushing the issue of energy efficiency in all areas for decades – in Festo itself, through research projects, in cross-industry committees and with a range of solutions geared towards sustainability.

For more sustainability in automation, we support you in four core areas:

Engineering for more energy efficiency

Your applications work most efficiently when they are tailored exactly to your individual requirements. You create the basis for saving energy sustainably by selecting the right technology and optimally dimensioned components. Take advantage of our numerous engineering tools that make your life easier.

Pneumatic or electric – what is more efficient?

Sustainability in automation starts from the design of your system. By deciding on the right drive technology, you can follow the most energy-efficient course over the entire operating time. Criteria like dynamic response, force, control characteristics, load stiffness and, of course, economic efficiency always play an important role in the selection. An appropriate combination of both technologies is, in many cases, the best solution.

Energy-efficient handling system

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

Pneumatics – energy-efficient holding, clamping and tensioning applications
This low-cost and low-maintenance technology permits energy-efficient movement between two end positions, for example in holding, tensioning, clamping and pressing applications. Simple and robust pneumatics can be found in nearly all automation technology segments.

Servo-pneumatics – energy-efficient with large loads
Servo-pneumatics is an energy efficient and attractively priced technology if you need to position heavy loads ranging from 15 kg to 300 kg. Drive packages based on this technology are characterized by fast switching from position control to force control and gentle travel to positions.

Additional help with technology selection is available in the Automation Guide (PDF)

Or read our white paper "Pneumatic or electric (PDF)"

Which CO2 values and TCO does your application have?

CO2 TCO tool from Festo

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

With our CO2 & TCO Guide, you can compare electric and pneumatic actuators from our product portfolio. The tool clearly displays the energy consumption, CO2emission, the acquisition costs and the total cost of ownership; it thus offers you a valuable decision-making tool based on the most important factors.

Launch CO2 & TCO Guide

Finds the right product quickly and easily

Engineering on the laptop

Intelligent engineering focuses on a perfectly adapted sizing of components and selection of the optimal control concept.

Our digital engineering tools facilitate the energy-efficient design of your systems. With the demand-oriented sizing of pneumatic drives, up to 40% of the air consumption of an application can be saved, for example. Evaluation tables, cost calculators and simulation software help you make the right decisions right from the start and to optimize the systems for your specific applications.

To the overview of engineering tools

Sustainable operation products

You can find our complete sustainable product portfolio in our online shop at Industrial automation, Process automation and LifeTech automation.

Take a look at our highlight products here:

Sustainability in basic and further training

Energy efficiency and sustainability start in the minds of your employees. Festo Didactic is a leading global specialist in technical education. We provide today's and tomorrow's professionals with the awareness and skills necessary to discover and consistently exploit savings potential in their work – from the design of your systems to their everyday operation.

Top tips for greater energy efficiency

There are many starting points for significantly increasing the energy efficiency and thus also the productivity of your systems. From holistic planning of new systems to simple measures during operation. With the following energy-saving tips for pneumatic and electric automation solutions, you will take a large step towards the goal of CO2-neutral production.

Selection of the right components

Selection of the right components icon

Measures for energy efficiency start with planning. Carefully selecting the actuator type that is best suited for the application is crucial. Single-acting cylinders or a pressure-reduced return stroke can noticeably decrease compressed air consumption. Use pressure regulating plates and pressure regulators. For long standstill times, servo/stepper motors with holding brake are recommended, for example.

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

Select the size as needed

Select the size as needed icon

Energy consumption is heavily influenced by the design of the drives. Oversized drives must be avoided at all costs. The smaller the actuator, the more energy efficient it is.

  • Be sure to select the safety factors correctly and keep moving loads small. In this way, up to 40% of the air consumption of an application can be saved with pneumatic actuators.
    One example: For the standards-based cylinder DSBC, the reduction from size 40 to 32 results in energy savings 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. Festo Engineering Tools will help you in this. These are practical calculators, simulation software and configuration tools, such as the design and simulation tool Electric Motion Sizing, the Solution Finder Simplified Motion Series or our Handling Guide Online (HGO).

Save weight in a targeted way

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Moving weight demands energy. Therefore, pay attention to a low moving mass, e.g. through correct sizing, combining components and choosing lightweight products.

  • If your application allows it in terms of payload and cycle time, an electric handling system in a technology mix with a light pneumatic Z-axis is a good choice.
  • Pneumatic grippers are lighter than electric grippers. In moving applications, this saves weight and energy.
  • With lightweight products you do more than just reduce energy consumption. Your production will also require less material, so you also have a better CO2footprint.

Minimize friction

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The less friction, the lower the energy losses and the longer the service life. For sustainable operation, it is best to use low-friction components.

  • Our pneumatic mini slides DGSL or DGST move with high precision and minimal friction.
  • Electric drives and axes should be serviced regularly in order to reduce frictional losses.
  • Always check whether a gear unit is really necessary or if you can do without it.

Energy recovery

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In many applications electric drives not only have to accelerate loads, they have to actively decelerate them as well. This braking energy can be reused under certain circumstances, for example with a DC link coupling, thus making it possible to save electrical energy.

In applications where acceleration and deceleration phases of different drives coincide, you can couple the DC links of the controllers and store the braking energy there. The motor controller CMMP-AS helps you do this.

Switching 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.

  • Whenever possible, switch off the air supply, e.g. during machine standstills, at the end of shifts, or during breaks. This is done automatically with our energy efficiency module of the MSE6 series.
  • To prevent non-productive idling, it should be possible to switch off the entire system, as well as individual segments or components. Be sure to use a safe sequence for shutdown and startup.

Efficient open- and closed-loop control

Efficient control icon

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

  • With our configuration and commissioning software Festo Configuration Tool FCT, you can set up good control performance for axis systems with little oscillation and controller intervention. The rigid mounting of the axis and motor contributes to this.
  • Digitized 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.

Air saving circuits

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Constant vacuum pressure is not absolutely necessary in order to reliably hold objects. Continuous air consumption can be avoided by using an air-saving circuit, especially in the case of smooth surfaces and non-porous material. The goal is to vacuum only when necessary.

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

Reduce pressure level

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There are different possibilities for reducing the pressure level and thus lowering energy costs.

  • An unnecessarily high pressure level in the entire network requires a lot of energy. Energy savings amounting to up to 10% can be achieved by reducing system pressure by 1 bar.
  • Some machines require a continuous minimum pressure. If individual applications require a higher pressure level at specific points, you can implement this locally with the pressure booster DPA, for example, instead of raising the pressure in the entire supply network.
  • The pressure for the return stroke can easily be reduced by half if an application requires the full force only in one direction of movement or the actuator can generally be operated with a lower pressure. This is especially easy to achieve in valve terminals with vertical stacking/regulator plate. Compressed air consumption can be reduced by more than 20%. Nutzen Sie hierfür unsere Regelplatten VMPA1 und VABF.

Reduce pressure losses

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Good compressed air treatment not only extends the lifetimes of components and systems, it increases productivity and industrial energy efficiency at the same time as well. Diligence in this regard pays off in the long run. Our service unit component series MS offers matching solutions, including in the mix of sizes.

  • Suitable sizing of compressed air preparation is important, with regard to service unit components as well. Check that filters are being used wisely, because every filter stage reduces the flow rate and increases the pressure drop.
  • Maintenance at regular intervals and correct selection of compressed air treatment can reduce energy consumption by up to 20%. Timely replacement of filter elements in service units prevents unnecessary flow resistance.
  • It is advisable to use pneumatic fittings with minimal flow resistance within the piping network. The feed lines to the systems and the pneumatic valves or valve manifolds should be adequately large in order to prevent pressure loss.
  • Use multiple distributor, instead of connecting T-junctions in series. This reduces the pressure drop.

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

Reducing tube lengths

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Many tubes between the valves and actuators are too long and increase compressed air consumption through what is called dead volume. This unproductive air also has a negative effect on the cycle time of the system. The dead volume in the tubing frequently accounts for a large percentage of overall consumption, especially where actuators or grippers with small volumes are involved.

  • Pay attention to the shortest possible tube lengths and optimum tube routing. Above all, we recommend decentralized positioning of the valve manifolds.
  • Use suitable tools for cutting tubing to length, such as the ZRS pipe and tubing cutter, to ensure tight connections and prevent leakage.

Reducing leakages

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Don‘t forget that leaks which go unnoticed cause unnecessary energy costs 24 hours a day. We know from experience that the leakage rate of existing systems can be reduced by up to 20%. Therefore, regular examination of the compressed air system including leakage detection is important.

  • With our Energy Saving Services, we detect leaks 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. We therefore recommend decentralized compressed air preparation directly at the system.
  • Choose tube materials suitable for the environment. This will prevent chemical, physical and microbial damage and therefore also leakages.
  • Fittings with modern sealing rings and support functions ensure a leak-proof, reusable connection.

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

Monitoring compressed air permanently

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Install continuous energy monitoring and check the compressed air consumption. Fundamentally, all sources of energy should be monitored by means of sensor technology, above all with flow sensors in the pneumatic system.

  • Based on the flow measurement, you can quickly and easily identify deviations from the ideal state caused e.g. by leakages or pressure losses. With this knowledge, you can initiate the right energy-saving measures.
  • Permanent compressed air monitoring makes compressed air consumption immediately transparent. A flow rate value that is too high is often an indicator of potential savings.
  • Monitor air consumption so that you can take countermeasures in the event of deviations. Continuous compressed air monitoring provides continuous reliability.
  • Rely on predictive energy management. By using artificial intelligence, it is possible to predictively calculate how the status of your systems will change. Here we use our software Festo Automation Experience (Festo AX).

From actual practice

Would you like to know more in detail? Comprising 144 pages, we offer you a structured collection of Tips and tricks for saving energy in pneumatics (PDF) for download.
Simple and advanced application solutions help you to use your compressed air components optimally and keep your energy consumption low.

Put your trust in the technical experts and efficient technologies from Festo to ensure your machines and systems consume fewer resources and less energy in future. Not only will you reduce your CO2footprint, you relieve the cost pressure as well. At the same time, you increase the sustainability of your production processes and your company's productivity. Our knowledge, our experience and our products can be found in the manual Energy Efficiency@Festo (PDF).