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Unitech Oxon Ltd

The newly installed Ecogate greenBOX 12 at Unitex Oxton helps cut the costs of dust extraction in half

Extractly Ltd recently installed a complete dust extraction system at Unitech Oxon Ltd. The new system was set up in place of an existing system which was tired and insufficient for the company’s needs and features Ecogate energy-saving control technology, a new filter unit, and ductwork.

Located on the outskirts of Banbury, Unitech is a long-established, family business with extensive factory and showroom facilities . They specialise in 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.

Installation of the new Biesse ROVER FT HD was the catalyst for upgrading the extraction system at Unitech Oxon Ltd.

To help achieve this goal, Unitech has always embraced new ideas and technologies to streamline and enhance production methods. The business even 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. He also conducted a free energy-saving survey. Based on this Extractly proposed upgrading the company’s extraction. This 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 from the inclusion of Ecogate technology since Unitech’s machines are never all in use at the same time. This is something quite common in the joinery and woodworking facilities. 

Typically, Unitech’s machine usage required a maximum extraction capacity of 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. With Ecogate’s ‘on-demand’ technology, however, 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 time. 

The new Nederman filter unit is designed to offer a total capacity of 33,500m3/hr which, with Ecogate controlling the main fan, allows 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. Every workstation has motorised Ecogate dampers integrated into the ductwork which serves each machine. As machines come on or offline, the Ecogate dampers open and close automatically. 

The greenBOX controller instantly instructs the Ecogate PowerMASTER variable speed drive unit to increase or decrease fan speed to exactly match the 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. This 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. 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!”

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