All hands on deck
For many years, well at least since the 1970s, the story of British manufacturing has been a sad tale of decline…or so you may have thought.
Often the question ‘why doesn’t Britain make things anymore?’ is asked, recounting days of shipbuilding and coal mining.
Contrary to what the question suggests Britain does make things. In fact, the UK is currently the world’s ninth largest manufacturing nation.
It is certainly true that the days of dirty and noisy heavy manufacturing, which were often a focal point of the community, have past. What has replaced it, according to the Office for National Statistics, is output of better quality, high productivity and goods with a more skilled workforce using automation and technology.
Environmental Product, Environmental Production
One company who can be considered part of this high quality output is Ecodek.
A proud British manufacturer of low maintenance composite decking and fencing, who produce over 1 million linear metres of decking per year. All from its manufacturing facility which consumes 3,600 tonnes of recycled wood and plastic.
As part of their continuing work towards sustainability, renewability and carbon reduction they highlighted the production waste which was collected within the LEV system, as an area of potential improvement.
The waste material, captured and collected by the dust extraction unit was bagged and shipped for disposal at landfill. Clearly this didn’t meet the requirements of a company striving to be carbon negative.
Finding the Positive in the Negative
Initially the challenge was to find an effective way of recycling, by converting waste material into something which could be reused within the manufacturing process. Entering what could be described as a circular economy.
Engaging with Fercell, their activities and operation were considered with reference to the existing dust extraction system and what they wanted to achieve with the production waste. Briquetting was the answer, converting what once was a very fine, costly to dispose of, dust into a stable and solid material which could be reused.
The benefits of briquetting the waste material didn’t stop at recycling. The hazards of handling a free flowing, potentially explosive, dust were dealt with, with the transition into inert briquettes.
The communication between the two companies made it clear that Ecodek had an eye for best practice and were keen to listen to any suggestions which would improve their productivity and reduce environmental impact.
These proposed upgrades including looking at the existing LEV system, which consisted of a tired and inefficient bag emptying filter, which neither possessed the filtration area nor the air volume required for material type or processes.
Also, the LEV operating procedures meant frequent stopping of the plant to enable exchange of the waste collection sacks, when full. This not only required significant operator input, but had a negative impact on production and quite often resulted in waste material contaminating the area around the filter system with dust escaping during change over.
The outcome of the review was the installation of a comprehensive programme including a BF36-5, high efficiency, blower filter, equipped with PowerPulse® filter cleaning technology and total separation zone to promote dust-release and optimum filtration performance. Configured as a negative pressure filter with an energy efficient JK 40 MTD centrifugal, backward bladed, fan set to provide constant airflow at constant pressure for their 24 hour, 5 day per week operating requirements. All supplied in Ecodek’s corporate colours.
The requirement for operator intervention was removed, thanks to an inclined screw conveyor feeding directly into a WEIMA C140 briquette press, completely sealed to ensure zero emissions.
The C140 briquette press is equipped with automatic start/stop operation and briquette length control. And with an output of 40 kilograms per hour of briquettes a considerable volume of material can be feed back into production, which would previously have been disposed of in landfill.
To protect the new briquette press and provide storage space Fercell also manufactured and installed a purposed built steel framed, box profile clad, building with electric roller shutter.
Your Wish Our Command
As a manufacturer, Fercell had the flexibility to provide a solution which meet Ecodek’s timescales, requirements and expectations. A case of ‘giving them what they want, rather than what you have’.
It is always a thrill to hear about British manufacturing success stories, in particular those who achieve carbon negative status through a ‘cradle to gate’ philosophy.
Although the days of large scale shipbuilding are gone at least Ecodek’s continued growth as the UK’s market leader in wood polymer products ensures decks of a different kind.
Be Part of the Conversation
If you’d like to understand more about how you can improve your productivity, profitability and environmental credentials what better place to start than a conversation with one of our dedicated team.
Author: Darren Ray, Technical Sales Engineer