Aichi Forging Company of Asia, Inc.
Aichi Forging Company of Asia, Inc. is an Aichi Steel Group company production base in the Philippines which provides the automotive industry with transmission-related forged parts. In order to reduce the cost of electricity while making use of existing equipment, the company turned its attention to compressor operation. By controlling the number of compressors running, it optimized compressor use and successfully reduced the power consumed by the air supply for the production line.
Compressor Operation as a Key to Reducing Electricity Costs
Aichi Steel Corporation was established in 1940. Formerly, it was a department of Toyota Automatic Loom Works Ltd. (the present Toyota Industries Corporation), which was in charge of the research and manufacture of specialty steel for domestically produced cars. Today, Aichi Steel Corporation provides various kinds of products, particularly forged parts, whose raw materials include varieties of specialty steel, such as nickel chrome and stainless steel and titanium alloy, in order to meet a wide range of needs, from the automotive industry to industrial machines, electronics, construction, and even the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries. Particularly in recent years, the company has been vigorously expanding its affiliate companies operating as production and sales bases in such regions as North America, Europe, the ASEAN area, and elsewhere in East Asia, establishing a global production system to strengthen its competitiveness in the international market, while focusing also on optimizing its supply chain.
Aichi Forging has the longest history of any Aichi Steel Group overseas production base. The company was established in 1995 when Toyota Motor Corporation expanded to the Philippines. The production factory operates day and night to forge parts for automobile transmissions, supplying them to Toyota and other Japanese automotive manufacturers’ overseas production bases in Thailand and Indonesia.
“The power infrastructure in the Philippines has high rates compared to other ASEAN nations. Finding a way to reduce the cost of energy at the factory was one of the company’s important challenges for a long time. Compressors, in particular, were a focus of our attention since they create the air for various metalworking machines used in different processes such as pressing. How to make their operation more efficient and cut power consumption was a big problem,” says Hiroki Morishima, Aichi Forging’s Executive Vice President for Marketing.
To reduce energy use, Aichi Forging had taken measures not to operate all of its six compressors 24 hours a day under normal circumstances. Previously, when production quantity increased and consequently air pressure to the production line dropped, an alarm sounded. When they heard the alarm, operators would head out to the utility building and start the necessary number of additional compressors. Compressors were also stopped manually when they were no longer needed.
“Adjusting the air supply manually to meet the need of the production line is difficult. However, if the compressors are put in automatic operation mode they can unload, which leaves the motor running even though the compressor is not supplying air. As a result, the energy driving the compressors sometimes didn’t match the load at the production line. Additionally, we did not have enough information on the amount of air being used in the factory and the power being consumed by the compressors, which made it even more difficult for us to control the air supply properly,” says Maintenance Department Manager Jaime N. Fajardo.
These case studies were published in the 2016 Vol.3 issue of the azbil Group's corporate magazine, azbil.