The domotic system brought to the company by the maintenance team reduces waste and optimises consumption

Remember to switch off the light when it is no longer needed. Turn on the heating only when necessary. How many times have we heard or read these simple sentences on signs hanging in various places. The same principle, fighting waste and making the electrical and heating systems more efficient, is at the heart of the project studied and finalised by the team of Alessandro Brambilla, CPC Inox’s Maintenance Manager, for the Basiano plant and, in perspective, for the Gessate site. A project as simple on the surface as switching off the light, but in reality very complex when applied to a building of 17,500 square metres and the movements of 50 workers.

We asked Alessandro to tell us about it.

Read the interview

 

Domotics at the service of the environment

If turning off the light when you leave the room or turning down the heating when you leave are good habits that are easy to put into practice, imagining doing it automatically for a 17,500 square metre production facility will not have been so easy to achieve. Can you tell us what it is about?

This is a project to supervise business services such as lighting, heating and compressed air.

The system is based on PLC logic to manage the automatic switching on and off of lighting, heating and compressed air, taking into account company schedules and shifts, via a simple graphical interface that can be accessed from any PC location in the company and remotely. We have implemented different scenarios that allow the services to be configured in the desired zones and at the desired times with a simple, single digital control.

What were the objectives behind the domotics project?

The idea came about in order to simplify and speed up certain operations such as setting times for switching lights and heating on and off, while at the same time optimising the company’s energy consumption. Sustainability is one of the 4 pillars of CPC Inox and all initiatives that are introduced and developed in the company always look at this aspect as well.

How much time and resources did it take to achieve this?

The idea was born within our maintenance team in early 2023. At the beginning we prepared a small test in a limited area of the factory in Basiano; in September of that year the project was presented and enthusiastically accepted by the management.

In May 2024, work on the Basiano site was completed with the handover of the working project. Now we are ready to replicate it in Gessate, where we plan to finish the project at the end of 2025.

What are the main advantages of this system?

The main advantage is the possibility to monitor and modify company services from a single location.

The designed software allows via a graphic interface to optimise lighting and heating. This is quite a change from the past, when, for example, burner ignition was based on macro-zones, whereas today each individual burner can be ignited manually or automated on predetermined timetables that can be changed according to actual needs.

The compressors start and stop at predetermined times and take into account shifts and shutdown periods without the need for operators; alarms or necessary maintenance are automatically sent to maintenance staff with a mobile phone message.

We are therefore talking about a whole series of activities that with digitised management save time not only for the maintenance team, but also for their shift manager colleagues who will be able to indicate which areas to put into operation according to the machines that are active at that moment, without the need to go to each individual plant.

The graphical interface is in fact completely configurable and customisable on the basis of user requirements: it is not a closed and finished system today, but has been designed to evolve over time and meet the needs of CPC Inox also – and above all – with a view to corporate sustainability.

A final important advantage is the collection of data over time: the supervisor is shown consumption over the month and year. This will make it possible in the future, if necessary, to implement or replace existing installations in order to further reduce the energy impact.

Have you already estimated the impact from an energy-saving and economic point of view?

The system has only been fully active for a few months, which does not allow us to estimate the energy and cost savings that will surely result. However, we can make some estimates in view of the changed management of services.

We certainly expect a good impact on methane gas use. The single ignition of the burners and no longer group ignition optimises consumption considerably, while still maintaining an optimal room temperature.

Lighting management with automatic switch-offs and staggered compressor starts prevent the generation of high current peaks, bringing significant benefits over time that add to what CPC Inox has already achieved with the installation of the large photovoltaic system.