Canadian Consulting Engineer

Climate control for automotive plants

Efficiency and sustainability can be improved.

July 8, 2021  By Sandra Abuwalla

Connected cooling

Image courtesy Rittal Systems.

Automotive plants in Canada contend with extreme conditions. From a hot foundry to gearbox machining and plastic moulding, temperatures can fluctuate dramatically, causing potential damage to the machinery, hardware and technology used daily. As a result, it’s imperative to implement climate control to keep the sensitive technology that powers production running.

Climate control for efficiency

Heat has profound effects on the technology housed within automotive plants. And it exists everywhere, from ambient temperature to proximity to power supplies. Even components rated to handle hot temperatures can degrade as heat load rises. In order to protect mission-critical technology and hardware, the thermal control system within automotive plants must mitigate heat-related risks. Consequences of high heat on equipment can include:

  • Decreased power performance;
  • Trip faults and fluctuations in circuits;
  • Mean time between failure decrease;
  • Component set point drift;
  • Intermittent or catastrophic system failure;
  • Voided component warranty;
  • Factory downtime;
  • Lost revenue;
  • Delayed shipments;
  • Customer dissatisfaction; and
  • Component replacement costs.

Within the automotive industry in particular, a significant amount of energy is expended for controlling cabinet air conditioning. Reducing heat via ventilation and cooling systems is especially important because of the heat loss incurred in integrated electrical appliances.

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Climate control for sustainability

In addition to protecting your facility’s valuable equipment, the right cooling system can also help automotive plants save energy, lowering costs while reducing carbon output. In North America, one-fifth of carbon emissions come from industry. And sustainability is important for a variety of reasons, from benefiting the environment to saving costs on the amount of energy being consumed.

Using sustainable products can help your facility provide cooling that automatically adjusts to ambient conditions while providing additional energy savings.

UL 60335-2-40 compliance

Another reason climate control within automotive plants is critical is to comply with safety standards. In November of 2022, UL/CSA 60335- 2-40 will go into effect. UL is a global safety organization that is OSHA-approved to perform safety testing to uncover and prevent U.S. workplace safety hazards. The new requirement has been established to replace the UL Standard 1995 and CSA Standard C22.2 No. 236, which are scheduled to become obsolete on Nov. 16, 2022 and Nov. 30, 2022, respectively.

What does this mean for auto manufacturers? UL 60335-2-40 is an ANSI/SCC approved refrigerant detector standard that covers electrical heat pumps, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers. For each unit, the UL 60335-2-40:

  • Requires refrigerant leak detection;
  • Requires refrigerant charge limits to be based on the amount of hydrocarbons that can be used in a standard-sized room; and
  • Requires appliances to not have any potential internal ignition sources, which mitigates the risk of fires caused by a leak.

Before the standard goes into effect next year, make sure that the enclosures and climate control efforts in your plant comply.

Automotive plants across Canada often contend with extreme conditions. Consequently, rising heat can damage and slowly degrade mission-critical technology and equipment, raising costs and increasing the carbon footprint within facilities. Implementing climate control enclosures and software can help your plant save money, become more sustainable, and comply with changing regulations.

Sandra Abuwalla is marketing lead for Rittal Systems Canada. This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer.


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