Milestone 1 ‘Industrial processes and their flexibility potential’ has been achieved

As part of realization of the Work Package 1 under lead of Fraunhofer IFF, a Milestone 1 has been accomplished. A report on the identification and analysis of energy flexibility and optimization potentials for the SME (small medium enterprise) was prepared. It includes analysis and statistics in both countries (Germany and Poland) regarding: energy generation and share of energy sources incl. legislation, economic and technical aspects of RES (renewable energy sources) operation, energy consumption by sector and in branches of industry, analysis and classification of industrial processes and their technical and economic characteristics as well as identification of flexibility in industry.

Industrial processes can have different flexibility potential depending on the type of production and the processes themselves. Boundary conditions that must be met are complex (staff and resource distribution, time-space dependencies and process sequences, costs, etc.). Therefore, industry can offer energy flexibility when infrastructure and production plans can be adapted while ensuring the business goals and boundary conditions. Furthermore, industrial flexibility is strongly dependent on the individual capabilities and needs of the company. However, the general analysis of flexibility potential depending on the type of production and their throughput is possible, like shown in figure below.

Costumer-oriented and workshop processes are discrete processes, which are characterized by high flexibility and low production volume. The products may be alike or highly disparate. Depending on the similarity, the setups and changeovers can be frequent (for dissimilar products) or few (for similar products).  Workshop processes have production areas instead of production lines. If the demand grows, the process can be turned into a discrete line and a labor operation might be replaced by automated equipment.

Batch processes can be classified both as discrete and continuous processes. All the production demand can sometimes be met by just one batch, and at other times, it could take several batches. Repetitive and continuous processes are very standardized and dedicated. They both aim at maximizing the amount of production and have special production lines, which turn out the same product or closely related products in the same family. The main difference is the production material. The materials in continuous processes are gases, liquids, powders or slurries, while they are generally solid in repetitive processes. The production is usually continuous at all times. Transportation machines can be speeded up or slowed down based on the demand. The setups and changeovers are very few in these processes. Though their technical capability for providing flexibility is rather limited, high production volumes make them attractive for demand side management.