Out with the old… in with the new Extractly system

Extractly Ltd recently installed a complete dust extraction system at Unitech Oxon Ltd, including Ecogate energy-saving control technology, a new filter unit, and ductwork to replace an existing system which was now tired and insufficient for the company’s needs.

Located on the outskirts of Banbury, with extensive factory and showroom facilities, Unitech is a long-established, family business, delivering bespoke kitchen and bedroom design, manufacture and installation to a discerning residential market. “Our goal has always been to provide our clientele with individually-designed kitchens and bedrooms – something we would be pleased to have in our own homes – manufactured to the highest quality and exacting requirements, yet competitively priced”, says founder and owner Kevin Crouch.

To help achieve this goal, Unitech has always embraced new ideas and technologies in order to streamline and enhance production methods and the business recently invested in cutting-edge CNC technology with the installation of a high-performance Biesse ROVER B FT HD machining centre – only the second of its kind in the UK. “Although our ductwork system was installed only five years ago, it hadn’t given us the service we had expected”, Kevin explains. “It was getting to the point where we were going to have to make some expenditure on repairs or replacement, but then our decision to invest in the new Biesse kit made the need to update our extraction system an essential requirement.”

Extractly sales engineer, Tom Firth, visited the factory to review Unitech’s dust extraction requirements, and also conducted a free energy-saving survey. Extractly’s subsequent proposals for upgrading the company’s extraction included replacing the previous ducting with Nordfab ‘QF’ Quick-Fit clipped ductwork system throughout, along with a new externally-sited Nederman LBR SmartFilter with 55kW main fan and rotary valve discharge, together with a smaller 15kW transfer fan to convey filtered waste to the existing storage silo. As Tom Firth explains: “Unitech’s decision to install the new Biesse CNC equipment was something of a game-changer, and the previous extraction system just wasn't designed to cope with the potential volumes of dust waste that could be generated with the factory in full production.”

Based on manufacturers’ data, Unitech’s collection of dust-producing machinery required a combined total extraction volume of around 38,000m3/hr. However, Extractly’s survey established that the installation would benefit significantly from the inclusion of Ecogate technology since, in common with most woodworking and joinery manufacturers, Unitech’s machines are never all in use at the same time. Typically, Unitech’s machine usage required a maximum extraction capacity of just 33,000m3/hr, and installing Ecogate would further reduce this requirement by around 15%.

Without Ecogate’s energy-saving technology, the system would have required a filter unit with a capacity of around 40,000m3/hr with the main fan operating at full speed, all day, every day. But, with Ecogate’s ‘on-demand’ technology installed, the speed of the main fan will be continuously adjusted to provide optimum extraction, in real-time, and only for machines that are operating at any given point in time. The new Nederman filter unit is designed to offer a total capacity of 33,500m3/hr which, with Ecogate controlling the main fan, still affords Unitech some spare capacity
to accommodate additional machine installations, or to cope with possible future demand from high-speed replacement equipment.

At Unitech, Extractly installed an Ecogate greenBOX 12 control unit, which has the capacity to control extraction from up to 12 workstations, and motorised Ecogate dampers are integrated into the ductwork serving each machine. As machines come on or offline, the Ecogate dampers open and close automatically and the greenBOX controller instantly instructs the Ecogate PowerMASTER variable speed drive unit to increase or decrease fan speed to exactly match extraction demand. Directly controlling fan speed in this way not only reduces the filter capacity requirement, but also reduces the power required to run the fan, which in turn will significantly reduce electricity bills – typically cutting the cost of extraction by 50%, with a payback on the initial capital investment in under two years.

Extractly also incorporated several ‘Dust & Waste Clean-up Kits’ which simply connect to the extraction system with 100mm diameter flexible duct; each controlled by an Ecogate ‘Push-to-Run’ button. “We’re pleased with the system Extractly installed”, says Kevin Crouch in conclusion. “The installation is neat and the extraction is very efficient – and a secondary benefit of incorporating Ecogate is that the factory is noticeably less noisy than it used to be!”