Power management: Saving power in calf farms

When raising calves, the diet is not the only thing that plays an important role. The shed also has to have an exact, constant temperature and humidity level. Fulfilling these needs is energy-intensive and expensive. A farm in the German Vogtland now managed to cut energy costs. The key to success was measuring the actual power consumption at the main feed-in point.

The 700 free-roaming cows were bred by Heiko Hölzel and are the pride and joy of the farmer from Waldkirchen in Vogtland, a region reaching across the free states of Bavaria, Saxony and Thuringia in Germany. These dairy and meat products are very popular in the wider area. For Mr. Hölzel, considerate use of natural resources is important: "We operate our own biomass power plant and use LEDs to light the sheds and production rooms. Still, we are aware that additional savings are possible – but where to start?"

Safety on the farm

 

As a first step, the farm electrician Ulrich Bauer decided to measure the actual power consumption at the main feed-in point. The solution is based on the Simatic S7-1200 control system and can be installed within just a few hours. "The first results were already surprising," Mr. Bauer recalls. "The measurements quickly showed that the main plant fuse for the direct marketing and the cooling system had already reached their limits at that point. In the worst case scenario, an overload could have led to an interruption of the cooling chain."

Reducing consumption

 

Knowing the exact load profiles of all existing machines and facilities enables Mr. Bauer to match the consumption diagrams. "If, for example, we can show the employees how much an unnecessarily running pump consumes, they will pay much more attention to avoid unneeded consumption. Being absolutely sure you can make savings leads to a more responsible use of resources than any well-intended plea ever will," says a happy Heiko Hölzel.

 

Quickly getting started with power management

 

What makes the new technology special is that you can start small and gradually progress toward a full-fledged power management system. For now, the plan is to refine the consumption metering in order to further increase transparency. For the long term, Mr. Hölzel and Mr. Bauer are already thinking about switching concepts intended to prevent consumption peaks. For them, it goes without saying that despite all the enthusiasm about the savings achieved, the well-being of the cows and calves, as well as the quality of the hand-made cheese and sausages, still have top priority. But of course, these aspects are not in conflict either.

2017-02-03

Picture credits: Marienhöher Milchproduktion Agro Waldkirchen

 

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