Half price dust extraction?

Ecogate’s greenBOX 12 and greenBOX MASTER continuously determine optimum fan speed to exactly match extraction requirements, and the Power MASTER variable speed drive unit adjusts power to the fan accordingly

As a manufacturer in the woodworking industry, your extraction fans are likely to be burning more electricity than all of your machinery, so with UK energy prices rising inexorably, is there a solution?

Often accounting for more than 35% of a factory’s total electricity expenditure, a dust extraction system is typically the largest consumer of electricity. However, returning a profit, or even surviving in today’s climate, requires machines to be as near to 100% productive as possible, which means dust extraction is also required to be operational for 100% of the working day.

For decades, furniture and joinery manufacturers have had to run their extraction fans at full power, all day, every day, irrespective of the number of woodworking machines that are operating, or the amount of dust to be extracted. To put that into perspective, a middle-of-the-road extraction system, with a couple of 30kW fans, running 12 hours a day, five days a week, for 50 weeks, is going to consume around 180,000kW of electricity per year.

Only last year, with electricity for industrial users costing around 10-15 pence per kilowatt hour, the total annual bill for powering the extraction system would have worked out at somewhere between £18,000 and £27,000. That’s a sizable chunk off anyone’s bottom line but, roll forward a year, and the same factory today is likely to be paying out in excess of £45,000 to power the same extraction system.

So, if your machines have to work all day, and the extraction system has to run all day, the only way to get those costs back in harness is to make the extraction system more energy efficient. There are other systems on the market now, but the original and innovative Ecogate® ‘Extraction-on-Demand’ System, first introduced to the UK woodworking industry back in 2010, is a world leader in this field of energy-saving technology.

Ecogate’s throwaway claim is that the system can reduce your extraction running costs by half but, on average, Ecogate installations have actually reduced electricity usage by over 65%, and saved some users more than 20% off their entire factory’s electricity bill.

How does it work?

The theory behind Ecogate technology isn’t a new concept; in fact, it’s based on science that was proven as long ago as the late 1800s. In this application, the laws of physics work in Ecogate’s favour and, in overly-simplified terms, it’s the relationship between fan speed and extraction volume that provides the explanation. Fan speed and extraction volume are directly proportional; if you vary the fan speed, the volume changes by the same percentage. However, the relationship between volume and power is cubic3, which means that a relatively small reduction in extraction volume achieves a much larger reduction in the electricity required to power the fan.

As a rule of thumb, Fan Laws dictate that a 50% reduction in power consumption can be achieved by reducing fan speed by just 20%, but the more complex side of the science is the technology, which ensures any reductions made to the fan speed, which produces the power savings, are achieved without causing any reduction in the effectiveness of your extraction system.

Although extraction systems have traditionally been operated continuously, at full power, a typical joinery shop with, for example, a dozen different dust-producing machines, is rarely operating all of those machines at the same time. The technology behind an Ecogate system constantly monitors machine usage and, when machines are idle, or come on- and offline, the system calculates the change in extraction volume required to maintain effective control of the waste dust being produced, at any given time, then adjusts fan speed accordingly, in order to optimise energy consumption.


Ecogate’s automatic motorised dampers; quietly reducing energy usage by at least 50% in a typical joinery workshop

Effectively, an Ecogate® System constantly adjusts fan speed, to exactly match demand for extraction, in real-time – the moment a machine goes offline, the fan speed reduces and power is saved. The system is also designed to maintain minimum airflow in the ductwork system, delivering good system balance and preventing sawdust from settling in the ductwork.

The computer-controlled system employs automatic motorised gates and remote sensors, which signal the controller to open or close appropriate gates when a machine comes on- or offline. The central control unit, or greenBOX®, constantly monitors individual machines and determines the optimum fan speed, which is achieved via a variable speed drive unit – the Ecogate® PowerMASTER™, which was designed in collaboration with global technology company, ABB.

The brain of the entire system is the Ecogate greenBOX® Controller, and Ecogate offer a range of controllers to manage any size of installation – from the greenBOX® 12, renowned for its simplicity, reliability, and flexibility – through to the greenBOX® MASTER – the world’s most advanced control system for industrial extraction.

The greenBOX® 12 is ideal for small- to medium-sized workshops with a single main fan and up to 12 workstations, or multiple greenBOX® 12 units can work together to control a larger system. At the other end of the scale, a single greenBOX® MASTER, with colour touch-screen for monitoring, setup and maintenance, is capable of handling up to four separate systems with a total of up to 180 motorised ‘Smart’ gates.

Is it just for new extraction systems?

Ecogate® is just as effective when installed as an energy-saving upgrade for an existing dust or fume extraction system as it is when installed on a new system. Integrating Ecogate technology into an existing dust extraction system can be undertaken with minimal production downtime and, with an installation often paying for itself through savings made in the first 12 months, it’s certainly looking like there’s never going to be a better time to invest in Ecogate® technology.

Does it make toast?

No… but we do believe you’ll think it’s the best thing since sliced bread! As well as saving energy and delivering cost savings for your company, an Ecogate® system delivers many additional benefits that stand it apart from other products:

• By reducing the volume and velocity of the air being extracted, Ecogate® also reduces the noise level in your factory;

• Ecogate® customers can also expect to significantly extend filter media life because of the reduced air velocity and volume;

• Reduced air volume requirements may also allow you to add new machines without upgrading your existing filter unit;

• When adding, removing, or just relocating equipment to improve productivity, an Ecogate® system can be easily reconfigured to account for changes in extraction requirements;

• Ecogate® technology eliminates the risk of dust settling in the main duct and greatly reduces dust accumulation in the factory. Dust that isn’t adequately removed is harmful for everything from employee health to finish quality and, ultimately, can increase the risks of fire and explosion;

• With Ecogate® installed, you can rest assured that your dust extraction system will continue to meet, and exceed, HSE requirements for LEV;

• Ecogate® reduces the environmental footprint of your operation, moving you closer to sustainability. Around the world to date, Ecogate® customers have reduced emissions of CO2 by a total of more than 1.9 billion tonnes, and are currently saving a total of around 65 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.


There’s a full range of Ecogate motorised dampers to fit all common ductwork diameters

How much will it cost?

No industry can avoid addressing the problem of poor energy efficiency, but installing Ecogate® technology allows you to take control of your running costs by taking control of the single biggest user of electricity: your extraction system. Extractly Ltd – the UK’s exclusive Ecogate® dealer and key installer – is a relatively young, but highly-experienced and motivated team of engineers who’ve been involved with Ecogate® since the product was launched in the UK.

Extractly have a host of happy customers who’d recommend Ecogate® in a heartbeat, and Extractly sales engineers are only too willing to visit your site to undertake a free extraction system survey in order to appraise your current power usage and the potential savings an Ecogate® system could achieve. Once the survey has been completed, Extractly will provide a fixed price quotation for supply, installation and commissioning.

If you’re looking to rein in the costs of running your extraction system or book an appointment for a free energy-saving survey, contact Extractly Ltd on 01924 520 462, email [email protected], or visit www.extractly.co.uk.

Extractly Limited
Business Park, Horace Waller Vc Parade
WF12 7RF
01924 520 462