ABB helped meat company to reduce energy on smoking good sausages

In Germany, a sausage maker that has been in business for nearly two centuries was looking for ways to save energy in its production processes. It found that by replacing the fan motors in its smokehouses with ABB’s IE4 motors it could cut the fans’ energy use in half.

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The sausage maker Rügenwalder Mühle places value not only on the superior quality of its products but also on the sustainable way they are produced. So when the firm was looking for a way to make the fans in its 30 smokehouses more energy-efficient, it found the solution at ABB. 

The new IE4 package combining a synchronous reluctance motor and the ACS880 variable frequency drive has brought an energy saving of nearly 50 percent. Rügenwalder Mühle’s investment will pay for itself in a little over a year. 

Rügenwalder Mühle has a number of brands that have made it one of the best known sausage producers in Germany – Rügenwalder Teewurst, Pomeranian Gutsleberwurst (liver sausage) and Schinken Spicker (sausage made with ham), to name just a few. With new products of high quality and innovative packaging, Rügenwalder Mühle, based in Bad Zwischenahn in LowerSaxony, is a big player in the market.

The quest to save energy 
Sustainability is an integral part of corporate culture in this family firm, which has been in business for more than 180 years. The energy management system, certified under DIN ISO 50001 and in operation since 2013, is an important component of the firm’s commitment to the sustainable use of energy.
Rügenwalder Mühle (Rügenwalder Mill)

Rügenwalder Mühle Carl Müller GmbH & Co. KG has been in the family for six generations and employs around 450 people. In 2013, it had revenue of 175 million euros.

“We looked during the implementation of the system to see if there was somewhere in the production process where it would still be possible to save energy, and that’s when we realized it might be possible in connection with the fan motors in the smokehouses,” explains electrical engineer Walter Strömer, who oversees energy management at Rügenwalder Mühle.

"With a normal motor we would never have managed to keep the speed so low. That was possible only with ABB’s IE4 SynRM motor."

It’s mostly the famous Rügenwalder Teewurst pork sausage that is cured in the smokehouses. After the meat has been minced, the ingredients are salted, seasoned and stuffed into the casings. The sausage derives its maturity and its distinctive taste through both the salting process and the slow process of drying and smoking. 

“The smokehouses are what really count when it comes to the quality of our Teewurst,” Strömer says. “If we get things wrong there, tons of sausage can be ruined.” 



Rügenwalder Mühle Carl Müller GmbH & Co. KG

Location Bad Zwischenahn in LowerSaxony, Germany
Industry Food & Beverage
Motors and Generators deliveries IE4 synchronous reluctance motor and ACS880 drive
Keys to success Energy saving of nearly 50 percent, increased efficiency with new drive

Synchronous reluctance motors replace induction motors 

As is tradition, the Rügenwalder Teewurst is smoked over beechwood. Beechwood is ideal for the purpose as the embers produce a mild, aromatic smoke that is easily absorbed by the meat.

The wood smoke is produced in smoke generators and blown by fans into the smokehouse, which contains the food. Since 1992 the fans had been driven by two-pole induction motors. It was decided to replace these with modern IE4 synchronous reluctance motors, in order to achieve a significant reduction in energy use.

“We’d calculated how much energy an IE4 would save,” Strömer says. “ABB was the only manufacturer that could offer an 11 kW motor.”


The ABB synchronous reluctance motor is fitted with an innovative rotor in combination with a conventional stator. In contrast to traditional motors, the rotor has no windings and no magnets. The result is that power loss, which accounts for around 40 percent of energy loss in an electric motor, is virtually eliminated.

Optimal precision

Rügenwalder Mühle uses the ACS880 single drive. Its performance is based on Direct Torque Control (DTC), the optimal solution for precise motor control.

Energy saved, money saved
The first trial conversion of a smokehouse was in May 2014. This included altering the mechanical drive system and installing a V-belt instead of a toothed belt drive. Afterward, when the performance of the new motor was compared with that of the old, energy savings reached nearly 50 percent. 

“The smoking process takes place in two stages,” Strömer explains. 

“For 75 percent of the time we ran the fan motor at only 50 percent of maximum power. With a normal motor we would never have managed to keep the speed so low. That was possible only with ABB’s IE4 motor and its variable frequency drive. Added to that is the increased efficiency of the new belt drive, which I’d say gives us another 2 or 3 percent.” 

With the initial trial meeting all expectations, the fan drives in four further smokehouses were converted in the same year. The remaining 25 smokehouses will have been converted by the end of 2015. By the way, Teewurst (“tea sausage”) has never actually contained tea. But it used to be eaten at afternoon tea, and that’s how it got its name.
Less energy used in the smoke houses

Rügenwalder Mühle has achieved a considerable increase in energy efficiency for the fan systems in its smoke houses by using the ABB package with a synchronous reluctance motor.

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