Ecogate® Energy Savings Add Up At Verco
As the economic downturn continues, most manufacturers are on the lookout for efficient ways to reduce operating costs. Users of dust extraction equipment – in effect, all woodworking and furniture companies – can take encouragement from the experience of High Wycombe-based Verco Office Furniture Ltd.
Established 100 years ago, Verco is one of Britain’s leading office furniture manufacturers with extensive ranges of ergonomic seating, desks, tables, storage and screens for all office or business environments. The family-run business has grown over the years on its original site and today employs 120 people within a modern 50,000 sq. metre facility. The sizeable woodworking machine shop at Verco has a large number of high-performance machines requiring high volumes of extraction to deal with the dust and chips generated. The dust extraction system, which has been installed for a number of years, employs four main extraction fans with a total power rating of 167kW.
And, as is the case with most workshops, the fans were installed to run continuously at full load, all day long. Last year, Verco management decided that they would explore the potential for energy savings by taking advantage of the free ‘energy saving appraisal’ offered by Dust Control Systems Ltd (DCS). Mick Pitwell, who is responsible for machine shop maintenance at Verco explains: “DCS, who have maintained our dust extraction plant for many years, came in and were able to determine the extraction demand for every single machine in the shop. From this they identified how the individual systems could be adjusted for volume and duty cycle, with the aim of lowering the average total volume and, therefore, the power usage.”
DCS presented their findings and put forward an energy-saving proposal which involved retro-fitting their innovative Ecogate computerised optimisation system. It was estimated that the system would result in savings of up to £14,000 per year. Verco commissioned DCS to install the system which comprises: four Ecogate greenBOX controllers; Ecogate motorised gates fitted to all machines; and variable speed drives for each of the four fans. The greenBOX controllers constantly monitor individual machines and determine the optimum speed of the respective fan. The system also detects when all machines on any fan line are inactive, and will shut that particular fan down.
At the time of going to press, the system at Verco had been operating for 30 weeks. Ian Rayner, technical sales engineer for DCS Ecogate, had just visited site and interrogated each controller. From the stored data he was able to determine that savings already amounted to more than £9,000 when measured against pre-installation figures. This means that savings are on track to far exceed initial estimates.
Mr Pitwell added: “We are extremely pleased with the level of savings and with the all- round efficiency of the system – it virtually looks after itself. Also, we are enjoying a noticeably quieter life in the machine shop, much to the delight of the workforce and our visiting HSE inspector.”