How Automotive Manufacturers Can Reduce Their Carbon Footprint by Integrating Smart(er) Enclosure Climate Control Units

July 17 2023

Industry spotlight

The race is on for U.S. automotive manufacturers to significantly reduce their carbon footprint, or, in some cases, adopt a completely carbon-neutral production model by as soon as 2050. While the primary drivers for a more sustainable approach to automotive manufacturing are relatively known at this point, what’s less discussed is how the auto industry’s approach to enclosure climate control can play a large role in helping manufacturers accelerate their carbon footprint reduction goals — and actually increase efficiency and productivity in the process.

Today’s enclosure climate control units are miles away from the generations of climate control units that preceded them, in large part due to the influence of Industry 4.0 and IIoT. What’s more, the evolution of climate control technology has made it easier for manufacturers to leverage more targeted cooling with lower outputs to create a more strategic climate control infrastructure that consumes less energy.

With this in mind, let’s look at a couple of ways integrating the next wave of smart(er) enclosure climate control units can help automotive manufacturers reduce their carbon footprint

Smart enclosure climate systems allow for a proactive approach to cooling unit maintenance

A more proactive approach to cooling unit maintenance and troubleshooting, simple as though it may seem, is one of the more effective steps forward in reducing the amount of energy necessary to facilitate the 24/7, 365 manufacturing cycle that is baked into the auto industry. A large number of equipment failures in manufacturing facilities are caused by inefficient cooling, and cooling units that do not operate at peak efficiency increase your overall energy consumption and costs.

For example, a cooling unit efficiency analysis of Ford’s Cologne production facility revealed that out of the 220 cooling units deployed throughout the plant, 25 were defective and not operating at peak efficiency. The deficiency in the plant’s climate infrastructure was increasing energy consumption and costs, and it also put more stress on the climate control system as a whole. 

Digitizing your climate control solutions not only creates a more connected ecosystem where cooling unit performance data is available in real-time, but integrations like notifications, network alerts, and remote monitoring put operators ahead of the curve in scheduling regular maintenance intervals or troubleshooting system performance during deployment.

Rittal’s Blue e+ S is built upon a fully-integrated IIoT interface that allows for digital monitoring and condition reporting to help manufacturers better understand the state of their cooling units on a 24/7 basis. The Blue e+ S easily connects Rittal's new Smart Service Portal, where available, for remote monitoring and reporting. Plus, the unit’s compact design makes it ideal for applications like retrofitted facilities where reducing your automation footprint is key in optimizing productivity. 

What’s more, a touchscreen interface and LED display make it easy for plant technicians to evaluate performance, adjust each cooling unit’s temperature, and identify if repair or maintenance is required before it becomes a problem...

Smart enclosure cooling units leverage more efficient, targeted cooling technology

Part of the challenge with enclosure climate control in the automotive industry is the harsh nature of manufacturing environments, combined with the scale and variable nature of manufacturing programs as more automakers launch production of electric vehicles.

In addition, recent changes to regulatory compliance requirements like the new UL/CSA 60335-2-40 Standard — which requires cooling units to have smart leak detection systems if they use flammable or environmentally damaging refrigerants — compound the complexity of creating an efficient cooling architecture in the automotive space.

This is to say nothing of how many automotive companies are simply relying on antiquated enclosure cooling units that lack the capability for more precise, focused cooling outputs in more unique or challenging deployments like retrofitted production facilities. However, smart enclosure cooling units use innovative technologies to provide robust, highly targeted cooling outputs while still helping to reduce the amount of energy required for adequate cooling.

For example, Rittal’s Blue e+ line of enclosure cooling units are engineered with heat pipe and inverter technology to provide powerful cooling without the need for a compressor, expansion valve, or other regulating elements, which significantly reduces the amount of energy required to operate the unit.

Plus, the Blue e+ S is engineered to comply with the guidelines of the new UL Standard and has the ability to provide lower output categories of .3 kW, .5 kW, and 1 kW without sacrificing the cooling necessary to keep enclosures at optimal operating temperatures.

The innovative use of speed-regulated components and heat pipe design can help automotive manufacturers reduce their energy consumption by 75%, which helps reduce both your carbon footprint and energy costs. Additionally, the Blue e+ S is designed for use with refrigerants that have a Global Warming Potential (GWP) that is 56% less than those used in comparable cooling units. 

Aside from the Blue e+ S, Rittal’s heat exchangers come standard with digital temperature displays and control functionality for powerful, precise cooling in tough environments like automotive factories. Our heat exchangers are also designed for superior mounting flexibility and can easily integrate with a variety of climate systems and configurations.

For automotive manufacturers who are looking to really get somewhere in reducing their carbon footprint, Rittal’s enclosure climate control units are field-proven solutions to help manufacturers limit their environmental impact and optimize their production efficiency. Learn more about Rittal’s innovative line of enclosure climate control systems.