Really Useful Products’ makes really useful savings 06 February 2012

International plastics manufacturer Really Useful Products says it is enjoying a 10% increase in productivity – equating to an extra £3 million of turnover – yet without investment in additional machinery.

The reason: creative ideas from IsoCool that have significantly reduced manufacturing cycle time. In addition, the process cooling specialist's IsoFC energy-saving device, which IsoCool retrofitted onto the plant's existing system, is set to reduce cooling costs by more than £18,500 every year.

A spokesperson for the West Yorkshire-based manufacturer explains that its plant's mould and hydraulic machines are in operation 24/7 – and that, historically, the mould circuit was cooled by a single water chiller, with a 316kW cooling capacity, plus an air blast cooler for the hydraulic oil cooling circuit.

That system was costing around £33,000 a year to run, so when an issue with flow capacity arose, as well as a suspected fault with the cooling system, Really Useful sought help from IsoCool.

Nigel Hallett, managing director of IsoCool, explains that the chiller had an integrated tank and pump group, which was insufficient to meet the increased demand.
"It also occasionally caused air ingress problems when tools were changed," he says.

"To solve both of these issues, we installed a weir tank and separate chiller and process pump sets, with variable speed drives on the pumps. Due to the weir tank design, air contamination is no longer a problem, as the tank self-vents the return water from the process."

IsoCool also improved the mould cooling system, by installing large process pumps, which, in turn, reduced cycle times on the injection moulding process, so making savings on machine time.

However, having upgraded the existing system, IsoCool proposed an additional solution to lower energy consumption even further, says Hallett, by retrofitting its IsoFC energy saving device.

Now, during low ambient conditions the IsoFC uses surplus capacity from an ambient cooling system – the air blast cooler – to pre-cool water returning from the mould circuit before it reaches the refrigeration plant.

In this way, both circuits continue to fulfil their primary functions, but the load on the chiller is greatly reduced. As well as saving a significant amount of energy, it extends the life-span of chiller plant, explains Hallett.

Brian Tinham

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