ECO Obsolete Technology (EOT) is the name given to obsolete products that are energy efficient and can therefore still be utilised in industrial environments. Jonathan Wilkins reports
There's a reason why things like vinyl records, books and vintage cars are still around, despite more modern - and some would argue better - alternatives being available. It's not just because retro is cool, it's because they still have something to offer. It's the same reason why manufacturers around the world still use Eco Obsolete Technology (EOT) instead of switching to the latest upgrades.
EOT is the name given to obsolete products that are energy efficient and can therefore still be utilised in industrial environments.
Just as the vinyl music format is appreciated for its sound quality, books for their history and vintage cars for their sense of power, obsolete industrial automation components are still widely used because they remain relevant.
Despite what you might think, obsolete doesn't mean energy inefficient - it just means that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has stopped making the product. Obsolescence doesn’t mean the device no longer works, but it might mean it’s more difficult to source. The good news is it’s not impossible to find. In fact, there's a whole world of EOT out there that can help companies become more energy efficient, without spending millions on system upgrades.
International standards like ISO 50001 and programmes like the Ecodesign Directive and the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) have meant more and more dated technology has fallen by the wayside because it doesn't match up to efficiency standards. Take the incandescent light bulb for instance - there are now 39 countries that have either banned its use altogether or are in the process of phasing it out.
However, despite new waves of energy efficiency standards and sanctions for industry coming into effect, some obsolete technology has proven to be irreplaceable. The time of EOT is now and its role in industry couldn't be more important.
For industries that rely on obsolete parts, such as pharmaceuticals and nuclear, EOT plays a particularly prominent role in keeping automated processes running without costly and time consuming efficiency overhauls.
The delicate nature of both pharmaceutical manufacturing and nuclear means the two sectors are notoriously longwinded when the time comes for a system upgrade or part replacement. Whereas in other industries, new or replacement parts can be sourced and fitted with relative ease, it's not as simple in more highly regulated sectors. Industrial automation equipment can be subject to stringent guidelines, which means there's no such thing as a quick fix.
Because more people are becoming aware ‘older’ doesn't necessarily mean ‘less energy efficient’, the use of EOT has become more widespread.
Indeed, it's not just highly regulated industries that are benefiting from EOT. While you’re reading this, all around the world, energy audits are being conducted. If you listen very carefully, you might just hear the sound of a lead assessor pointing out a motor that has been over specified for the job its doing.
Not everyone knows this, but just by choosing the right size and capacity of a motor, you can make significant electricity consumption savings without using a control mechanism such as an inverter. However, this doesn't mean you have to hunt for a compatible brand new motor that will retrofit to your system; sourcing efficient obsolete parts is just as easy.
So, if you're looking for an obsolete motor, drive, PLC or HMI that can save on your energy bills, retro specialists European Automation can help. And remember, we also like discussing vinyl records and retro cars!
Jonathan Wilkins is Marketing Director of European Automation.