Utopia Bathroom Group, the UK’s brand leader in fitted bathroom furniture, has slashed its electricity bills by investing in energy-saving dust extraction technology Ecogate®, installed by Dust Control Systems Ltd (DCS).
For 25 years, Utopia has been designing and manufacturing high-quality bathroom furniture, bathroom suites, and bathroom accessories which are sold through a network of 600 retailers covering the UK and Ireland. Today, the company employs 140 people at its large, modern manufacturing centre in Bilston, West Midlands.
Utopia’s managing director, Dave Conn, along with production engineer, Jon Phelps, first saw the Ecogate technology being demonstrated at the W12 exhibition and were soon convinced that retrofitting the Ecogate system would make significant savings to the running cost of Utopia’s existing dust extraction systems.
In May 2013, Ecogate Ltd, together with authorised installer DCS, were called in by Utopia to carry out a thorough energy appraisal and present proposals for retrofitting Ecogate throughout the site.
Ian Rayner, sales manager at Ecogate, explains: “Utopia were operating two large-capacity drag chain filters, and a total of eleven main fans; ranging from 11kW to 75kW. And, with production operating on a two-shift pattern, fans were running virtually all day, 7 days a week. We were able to determine the extraction demand for every single machine in the workshop and calculate how each system could be adjusted for volume and duty cycle by optimising with Ecogate. We put forward an ‘extraction- on-demand’ proposal, demonstrating that annual savings of around 450,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) were achievable – giving a full return on the investment in approximately two years. Furthermore, the installation was backed by a Carbon Trust assessment which meant that it qualified for Green Equipment Finance through Siemens (SFS Ltd).”
Utopia commissioned DCS to carry out the work which involved the installation of eleven Ecogate Power MASTER® variable speed drive units, each with integral Ecogate greenBOX® 12+ controllers, and a total of twenty-six motorised Ecogate damper gates which automatically open and close as machines come on or off line. Responding ‘on-demand’ to variations in machine usage, the Power MASTER units continually adjust the speed of the fans, and optimise energy consumption. Additionally, to aid clean-up on CNC machining centres, eleven push-to-run overrides were installed, complete with automatic 5-minute ‘return-to-service’ functions.
Utopia’s Jon Phelps says, “Installing Ecogate made sound business sense. Prior to Ecogate the extraction system was running at full capacity – even if only half the machines were operating.
“Recently, we reached the six month mark since first installing Ecogate, and analysis of the system data produced staggering results – total savings were way ahead of original predictions, and equated to annual savings of 700,000 kWh. Ecogate is a remarkable system which, as well as saving energy, has also increased the efficiency of the extraction system. And, the DCS installation team installed and commissioned the complete system to schedule, over a two week period, with no interruption to production.”