The GEDIA Automotive Group, with headquarters in Attendorn, North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), is a key player in the global automotive industry. It employs over 4,300 staff at eight locations of the GEDIA Automotive Group. With its outstanding tool making, sizeable production capacities and sound expertise, GEDIA produces and delivers customised components to the automotive industry. These include structural components and assemblies for lightweight vehicle construction as well as chassis components.
At the GEDIA plant in Attendorn (NRW), special laser cutting equipment used for the sheet metal processing of car body parts needs to be cooled. One of the main disadvantages of the original cooling system, which did not support free cooling, was that the waste heat was fed directly into the production hall, resulting in very unfavourable working conditions during the summer months. Neither was there any in-built redundancy, so fail-safe operation was not guaranteed. The temperature accuracy (switching hysteresis) was +/- 2.5 K. The task was to replace the original cooler required for each laser with a cluster solution.
With the new solution consisting of a cluster of three 30 kW eChillers, six lasers can now be cooled en bloc. The connection of a seventh and eighth laser as well as further production facilities to the cluster are already being planned.
The customer requested a design based on a container solution which would move the cooling system entirely outside the production hall, thereby freeing up space. A further advantage of this approach is that it allows optimal use of the free cooling functionality. The system installation went smoothly and uneventfully and could be handled easily by a local heating contractor.
With the eChiller cluster solution, it was possible to achieve chilled water production with maximum energy efficiency, as well as free cooling and partial redundancy. The smart control features enable a temperature accuracy of 1 K which has a direct impact on the quality of the cutting processes by the laser machines, and consequently also on the resulting products. This is essential, particularly for the exacting quality demands of the automotive industry.
The company has also been able to reduce its carbon footprint since Bluezero® inside does not produce any direct CO2 emissions during cooling. With water as the refrigerant, GEDIA has now also uncoupled itself from rising refrigerant prices and shortages.
An unusual feature of this solution is an “evaporator” which the customer has installed directly next to the container to provide pre-cooling using “waste low temperatures”. The laser cutting process requires gaseous nitrogen which is stored in liquid form in a tank directly next to the container. Evaporation via the heat exchanger generates approx. 9 kW of refrigeration in the from of evaporative cooling which the cooling system “cashes in on” and no longer needs to generate itself. This chilling – which is actually a “waste product” of the evaporation of the nitrogen – is thus used productively, allowing maximum energy efficiency.
At the Attendorn site, all of the equipment is measured and evaluated for energy efficiency. The results of these evaluations are then used as the basis for rolling out tested technologies to other production sites as well.
“The cluster solution with three eChillers is a particularly elegant solution for the cooling requirements of our laser cutting machines: trend-setting, space-saving and maximum energy efficiency. The very high control accuracy contributes, amongst others, to the high quality of the manufactured parts”.
Stephan Gante, Group Director Machine & Facility Management
|Refrigeration capacity (kW)||90kW|
|Target temperature||20 °C|