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Thwaite Holme Kitchens & Bedrooms Ltd

Substantial cost savings with ECOGATE greenBOX NXT installation

A complete extraction system recently installed at Thwaite Holme Kitchens & Bedrooms Ltd, includes state-of-the-art Ecogate® greenBOX NXT technology.

Located near the village of Dalston, just a few miles south-west of Carlisle, the name Thwaite Holme has been synonymous with the design, manufacture and installation of quality fitted kitchens and bedrooms for over 40 years. The company was established in 1972 by father, Bob Postlethwaite, and now remains a family-run business headed by middle son Ian. The company specialises in high-end, luxury kitchen and bedroom furniture; designing and manufacturing quality, bespoke fitted furniture to suit individual tastes and styles. “Every piece of furniture we make in our workshop is unique and personal to each of our customers”, says Ian. “We have a highly skilled team, with years of experience in cabinetry and bespoke furniture, and we pride ourselves on the quality of the work we produce.”

Thwaite Holme’s factory houses a vast array of equipment and a total of 28 ‘Smart’ motorised dampers are controlled by the Ecogate greenBOX NXT.

Working in traditional hardwoods such as oak, walnut, maple and ash, the craftsmanship and attention to detail is obvious in every piece of Thwaite Holme furniture. Details of this nature are not produced on high-speed CNC machines, but crafted on a vast range of individual machines – in fact just about one machine for each year of the company’s existence, and a new extension to the premises, more than doubling the available space, has enabled the factory layout to be re-organised to optimise workflow.

“I’d come across an article about Extractly in one of the joinery magazines,” Ian explains, “and, knowing we’d need to make changes to our extraction system when the building work was completed, I had it pinned up on our noticeboard for weeks as a reminder to get them in to give us a price for getting the ductwork re-configured to suit the new layout.”

Extractly director, Jake Oldfield, takes up the story: “We were obviously pleased to get the enquiry from Ian”, says Jake, “but as soon as he showed me into the newly extended factory it was immediately obvious that the task was going to involve much more than an update of the ductwork arrangement.”

After a brief inspection of the factory, the filter unit, the armoury of dust-producing equipment, and a candid discussion with Ian, Jake carried out a comprehensive evaluation of the extraction requirements, including a full energy-saving survey. “It was a bit of a wake-up call,” says Ian, “but I guess I already knew that our existing system was coming to the end of its useful life. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I received the proposal from Extractly; especially the calculations showing the savings we could expect to make by including Ecogate® technology in the new system.”

With around 40 machines requiring extraction, and yet only a small number of them ever in use at any given time, the potential savings were substantial. The laws of physics ‘rule of thumb’ is that electricity consumption is halved if fan speed is reduced by just 20% and, with the energy survey having determined that a 35% reduction could be achieved with Ecogate® technology controlling the new system, the predicted savings were substantial. For Thwaite Holme, the lower fan speeds achievable with an Ecogate® system will save over 66,000 kilowatt hours a year, saving thousands of pounds every year on electricity costs – which, with the current economic uncertainty in the energy supply market, is welcome news for Ian Postlethwaite.

Although the technology controlling the system is sophisticated, the principle is a simple one: Ecogate’s smart motorised dampers are fitted into the extraction ductwork; machines are fitted with sensors that detect when they come on or off-line; and the Ecogate® greenBOX controls the opening and closing of the dampers. At the same time, the greenBOX controls a variable speed drive which, in real time, automatically adjusts the fan to run at the optimum speed required to extract only from machines that are in use, and to maintain minimum airflow velocity in the ductwork.

Extractly’s installation team fitted Nordfab QF® ductwork throughout the factory, connecting equipment to the main ductwork via four separate branches. A 37kW direct drive Combifab fan provides the capacity to extract in excess of 20,000 cubic metres of air an hour, delivering sawdust, shavings and wood chips to be filtered through the externally-sited Nederman NFSZ3000 2HJLR filter unit.

From here, collected waste is discharged pressure-free, via a Nederman rotary valve, and then by way of an enclosed mini-conveyor unit to feed the company’s existing briquetter unit. Clean, filtered warm air is returned to keep the factory warm through the colder months, or expelled to atmosphere when not required.
The filter unit is fully ATEX-approved and, in the unlikely event of an explosion in the unit, a Nederman non-return safety valve, situated in the main ductwork between the filter and factory, prevents the effects of a pressure wave and flames travelling through the ductwork and into the factory.

At the heart of the system is the Ecogate greenBOX NXT which, as well as monitoring individual machines, is also capable of monitoring activity on each of the four ductwork branches and, as Technical Director William Kenyon explained: “If any branch has no machines in operation, the NXT controller can automatically shut down that branch entirely, negating the need to maintain minimum airflow, and so further increasing the potential energy savings.”

“I’ve been really impressed with the level of service Extractly have provided”, says Ian Postlethwaite. “From Jake’s initial visit through to final commissioning of the new installation, communication at each step of the process has been excellent and, with the way energy costs are rising at the moment, it’s been the perfect time to have invested in Ecogate’s latest technology.”

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