Ricoh Microelectronics Co., Ltd. (RME), a manufacturer of electronic circuit modules, has been working to improve the energy efficiency of its energyintensive humidifying systems in the middle and long term. In fiscal 2009, four steam humidifiers on the first floor of its factory were replaced with highly efficient evaporative humidifiers. Air conditioning is necessary on the first floor throughout the year due to the heat from the manufacturing machines. The introduction of these evaporative humidifying systems has eliminated the need to use energy to generate steam, and has taken much of the load off the air conditioning due to lower room temperatures achieved through the power of vaporization. In addition, one of the four air conditioners has been equipped with an inverter that minimizes the air volume to control the factory temperature when it is not operating. These measures are expected to reduce the consumption of Bunker A fuel oil by 35.4 kℓ, or approx. 30% of the annual amount used and annual electricity consumption by 118,787 kWh. These improvement activities became eligible for a fiscal 2009 subsidy from NEDO* for business operators working to improve the efficiency of energy use.
Ricoh Fukui Plant has had energy monitoring systems installed since 2000 to measure the energy used on the production line and by the processes on a real time basis. The data obtained is used to identify and prioritize areas for improvement, enabling the plant to carry out energy-saving activities effectively and efficiently.
When producing toners, compressed air is used to crush the raw materials against the panel to produce the toner particles. The air compressors used for this purpose account for approximately 45% of the total CO2 emissions in the toner production process.
To reduce CO2 emissions, the plant replaced one of the air compressors
used in toner production with an inverter controlled model. Mainstream compressors usually operate with an on-off control system, which inevitablyinvolves unnecessary energy consumption when adjusting the pressure to the change in the airflow requirements. In January 2009, the plant installed an inverter controlled compressor based on the result of an elaborative calculation. The introduction of this one inverter compressor unit improved the compressor control system, optimized the number
of compressors in action, and thus eliminated 98% of the energy lost under the existing system.
As a result, the Fukui Plant reduced its annual power consumption by 888.7 MWh, CO2 emissions by 335.9 tons, and related costs by approximately 12 million yen.
The revised Energy Saving Act that went into effect in April 2014 places emphasis on leveling power demand load (reducing peak power), and the Ricoh Technology Center located in Ebina, Kanagawa Prefecture has long been working to reduce peak power.
The Ricoh Technology Center is a core Ricoh Group manufacturing site that employs about 5,000 people. When the Center erected a new R&D building in 2010, it installed a Building Energy Management System (BEMS)*1 in all structures on the premises to monitor and analyze the power consumption of each building in view of expected increases in power consumption. The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake also highlighted the importance of “peak power reduction,” and the Center has undertaken comprehensive energy conservation activities aimed at cutting peak power and overall power consumption.
First, BEMS was utilized to monitor power and analyze the makeup of energy consumption. In examining a breakdown of peak power use, it was discovered that power for “air-conditioning” to maintain temperatures in evaluation and experimental facilities and office rooms accounted for the largest segment at 32%, followed in order by “lighting” and “heat sources for equipment.” Based on these analysis results, the Center prioritized energy reduction measures, formulated a yearly plan, and implemented/evaluated the energy reduction measures. The principal reduction measures put into practice were the following:
(1) Improving methods for running air-conditioning systems (effect: 50Mwh/year)
(2) Controlling air-conditioning heat load by rationalizing room air circulation (effect: 1,142Mwh/year)
(3) Revising settings for cooling-water pump inverters (effect: 47Mwh/year)
(4) Rationalizing the brightness of lighting systems (thinning them out) and switching over to LED lighting (effect: 1,799Mwh/year)
To boost employee interest and awareness concerning these activities, the Center also used digital signage, the intranet and other means to disseminate information.
As a consequence, the Center was able to reduce power consumption by 8% (1,983Mwh/year) in fiscal 2013 from the level in fiscal 2010, when the R&D building was completed, and achieve a 19% reduction (1,416kw) in peak-time power.
These energy-saving activities have garnered numerous awards for the Ricoh Technology Center, including the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s FY2013 Kanto Regional Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry Director’s Award.
The power-saving activities have primarily been carried out by Ricoh Creative Service (RCS), which is responsible for running energy facilities at Group companies. Ricoh intends to make further power savings by extending RCS’ energy management know-how and experience in energy-saving activities to other Ricoh Group offices.