Left to right: Russell Pearson and Project Director, Adam Payne, at the automatic edge-bander, that is equipped with Ecogate motorised gates and machine sensors.  

Ecogate greenBOX12 units monitor machine activity, and control variable speed drives to adjust fan speed to match demand.  
Chilfen is able to undertake complete fit-out projects in commercial, retail and educational sectors.  


Chilfen Joinery, a leading bespoke joinery specialist serving the commercial and retail fit-out markets, has recently commissioned Dust Control Systems Ltd to install ECOGATE energy-saving technology to improve the efficiency of its existing dust extraction system.

Established in 1960, Chilfen is a family business with second generation family members, Russell Childs and Michelle Dear, heading up the company as joint managing directors. Located in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, the company employs around 70 people within a modern 33,000 sq ft production facility. Over recent years the company has seen strong growth from commercial and retail sectors with more and more fit-out companies recognising the firm’s capabilities and approach to project delivery. Chilfen is able to provide clients with a complete service from design and development through prototyping to quality manufacture.

Key investment over the years in plant, facilities and management has transformed Chilfen into a modern, efficient and competitive company. And today, its joinery workshop boasts an impressive range of state of the art machinery including CNC routers, an automatic edge-banding machine, high-performance moulder, panel beam saw and wide-belt sander.

As is the case with most workshops, the dust extraction system at Chilfen had been expanded to serve changes in machinery and extraction fans ran at a constant speed, irrespective of the number of machines operating or the amount of dust to be extracted. Following installation of their latest woodworking machine, Chilfen management decided to look at ways to improve the efficiency of the dust extraction system with the aim of reducing operating costs. Michelle Dear explains: “DCS, who were already contracted to carry out COSHH LEV testing on our system, were able to undertake an energy appraisal of all extraction on the site and determine the extraction demand for every single machine. Following this, they put forward a proposal to install an Ecogate extraction optimisation system together with a scheme to rationalise our existing installation. They confidently demonstrated that these measures would considerably improve the performance of our system and save on energy bills.”

Chilfen contracted DCS to carry out the work which involved retro-fitting an Ecogate system which comprised: two greenBOX12+ controllers connected in series; twenty Ecogate motorised gates and remote sensors fitted to machines; and variable speed drives for the main 75kW fan and 18.5kW waste transfer fan. The greenBOX controllers constantly monitor individual machines and determine the optimum speed of the fans. And, significantly, major ductwork modifications were made throughout the workshop.

Chris Oldfield, who heads up Ecogate in the UK, says: “This project clearly demonstrates the true potential of Ecogate. It’s now recognised that every woodworking machine is a potential source of energy savings if properly monitored and controlled but, in this case, the Ecogate system, combined with ductwork modifications made by DCS engineers, resulted in huge additional benefits. DCS were able to completely remove an existing through-flow filter and its 30kW fan from the system – saving over 300 sq ft of valuable floor space and around £6,000 in electricity bills.”

Russell Pearson, production manager at Chilfen, says: “With Ecogate our dust plant has been transformed into a highly-efficient system, which operates at reduced noise levels, and provides extraction only where needed. In the past, if someone was required to come in over the weekend, and operate just one machine, extraction for the whole factory would be running. DCS did a first class job and carried out all aspects of the project in a very professional way. The net result is that we expect to reduce electricity usage by around 160,000 kilowatt hours per year.”


Dust Control Systems Ltd., Horace Waller VC Parade, Shawcross Business Park, Dewsbury, WF12 7RF
Telephone: +44 (0)1924 482500   E-mail:
Freephone: 0800 0407116

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