Harmonic Distortion and Lower Energy Costs – Athlone Extrusions

Athlone Extrusions, a leading thermoplastic extruding and compounding company, was concerned about the production reliability issues posed by the high levels of harmonic distortion generated by their extruding equipment. In addition it wished to reduce energy costs by keeping the load power factor at a low level.

The Challenge

As a leading thermoplastics manufacturer, Athlone Extrusions were concerned about downtime caused by electrical voltage harmonic distortion within their plant. This distortion was causing over-heating of production equipment, cables and power components, such as transformers on the electrical network throughout the plant.  The result was that the network circuit-breakers and fuses were tripping or blowing, leading to unplanned outages of plastics extrusion equipment. When this occurred, the molten plastic solidified within the extruder.  The machinery then had to be dismantled and the plastic chiselled and extracted manually from the machine.  Considerable time and cost was being lost in the process.

How we helped

Premium Power studied the plant network and found that the plastic extrusion equipment was generating a high level of voltage harmonic distortion. We designed a harmonic filtering solution to be installed at key locations within the plant.  In order to design the best and most cost effective solution, advanced power quality meters were installed and monitoring took place over a period of time. The solution supplied by Premium Power included individually designed harmonic filter banks, dimensioned to provide the necessary power factor correction and to reduce the harmonic distortion to levels acceptable for the sensitive production plant and to the electrical supply utility.

“‘Premium Power has the high level of expertise and analytical skills required to deliver this critical engineering solution for our plant."
Seamus Farrell, Engineering Manager, Athlone Extrusions

The Result

Premium Power provided a custom solution that fixed the harmonic distortions and reduced energy costs. The internal network of the plant was modelled and, using this and the measured data, harmonic filters were dimensioned and designed to solve the problem. Premium Power then arranged the manufacture of the filters and supplied and commissioned these. This resulted in large energy savings for the plant, as the filters reduced load power factor and network heat losses.

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