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Eat my dust – manufacturer installs UK-first tech

Crystal Doors, a manufacturer of vinyl wrapped doors and accessories in Rochdale, is one step closer to becoming a cutting-edge smart factory after installing a state-of-the-art extraction system.

The company, which has been trading since 1994, has made significant environmental improvements to its operations in recent years, including installing a huge 980kW waste-fed biomass boiler to provide heating and hot water in 2015.

More recently, Crystal Doors has invested in a state-of-the-art dust extraction system that continuously monitors and controls the air throughout the factory.

Optimising energy use

The system has five inverters that allow 19 different machines in the factory to run at different fan speeds as and when required, ensuring optimal energy usage. It is the first time an extraction system of this kind has been installed in the UK.

The continuous monitoring system is fully automated and self-cleaning, and includes an alarm system to inform staff when the silo is full or if there are any issues with air quality.

The extracted wood dust that ends up in the silo is then fed into the biomass boiler as fuel, creating a constant loop turning waste into usable heat.

‘Everything is integrated’

Several different companies were involved in the installation of the system, which is managed overall by Ecogate in Yorkshire.

“Our new extraction system will save £10,400 a year, and will transform our manufacturing capabilities”, said Richard Hagan, managing director at Crystal Doors.

“The noise levels have reduced compared to our previous system, and it ensures we exceed all the requirements for our wood permit and dust limit.”

“We also recently installed a robotic paint spray unit which minimises overspray, and one of the ducts in the new extraction system provides clean air for the paint spray room. Everything is integrated now.”

Future plans

Now that Crystal Doors has better control of its operations across the factory, it is looking to implement ISO 14001, 19001 and 18001 and is also considering solar PV on its roof as part of the support it has received from the Business Growth Hub in Greater Manchester.

Laura Bramley, environmental business advisor at the Hub, helped Crystal Doors to calculate the energy and carbon savings from the new system and to identify other ways to reduce energy use, and highlighted the company’s latest investment as an example of Industry 4.0 thinking.

“The ability of automated systems to continually monitor performance and integrate with other machines is a great example of the emerging benefits of Big Data for manufacturers. This is the future of manufacturing and it is great that local companies like Crystal Doors are leading the way”, she said.

To find out more about the Hub’s support for Greater Manchester SMEs, or to read other success stories, click here.

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