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General Motors Employs GE Proficy Software to Control Energy Costs

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General Motors is using the Proficy software solution from GE Intelligent Platforms to control and manage energy costs at its assembly plants.  

General Motors has been a customer of GE Intelligent Platforms for over 20 years.  

General Motors has augmented its Proficy software solution to control the lights and other big energy-consuming equipment in its assembly plants, saving the major automobile manufacturer energy costs and considerably reducing its carbon footprint.  

In a car factory with a few million square feet of floor space, turning lights off when a specific section of the plant is not in use saves energy and money.

By linking the operation of the lights to the schedule of the conveyor, General Motors could considerably reduce energy consumption in the plant.

Since GE’s Proficy CIMPLICITY controlled the conveyor, the new application was based on the software to schedule the lights to coincide with conveyor operation. This led to other discoveries of potential energy savings.

According to Mike Durak, Global Information Technology Manager - General Motors, everything in a vehicle assembly plant is tied to the conveyor. Once the conveyor was scheduled, they had a deeper insight into plant operations, allowing them to schedule the switching on and off of big energy consumers such as air supply houses on the roof, ovens in the paint shop, lighting, water and compressed air generators.

Energy savings could be achieved by controlling the expansive plant floor space with Proficy CIMPLICITY software, a client/server based HMI/SCADA solution that allows operators and management team to make more informed decisions with real-time visibility technology.

In GM’s case, the team can manage certain parts of the factory or the whole plant from any location through automatic shut-off of lighting and equipment without affecting employees.  

From the lighting perspective, lights are turned on two or three minutes before employees arrive at their workstation. The general building lighting goes on a few minutes earlier.  

The paint shop in automotive assembly is a significant energy consumer, because in order to make sure that the car’s paint does not contain dust or other contaminates in the final product, it is important to maintain optimum air quality and temperature.

Proficy CIMPLICITY is used by General Motors to monitor the paint shop’s environmental conditions alerting the paint shop staff when process circumstances begin to trend out of acceptable ranges.

Key advantages for GM included the low cost implementation and payback in less than six months, encouraging them to roll out the solution to 20 plants.   

Example annual savings versus one-time implementation costs at individual plants include: 

  • For weld water pumps/cooling tower/fans, chilled water and exhaust fans, annual savings are 7 times greater
  • For hydraulic pumps, ovens and weld water pumps/cooling towers/fans, annual savings are 4 times greater
  • HVAC and line lighting savings are 5 times greater
  • Ventilation, line lighting and air supply/exhaust savings are 5 times greater

Erik Udstuen, Software Vice President for GE Intelligent Platforms comments that General Motors has extended their application of Proficy software to further their goals of operational excellence.

He adds that the GM installation is an example of what Proficy can do to connect the enterprise to execution systems driving real-time decision making, enabling lean operations and improving efficiency.

Proficy CIMPLICITY is presently deployed by General Motors at 85 global facilities in the USA, South America, Europe and Asia. 

Proficy CIMPLICITY either provides or is the basis of GM’s 11 global common manufacturing applications that include production monitoring and control, bank management as well as vehicle routing and control in the paint process.

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