ICS Cool Energy Transforming Manufacturing Efficiency at West Midlands Machining Centres

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For 25 years, two machining centre plants located in the West Midlands, have been dedicated to precision engineering and playing a key role in supplying components to leading truck and bus builders across the UK and Europe.

In 2022, their operational efficiency faced a critical challenge due to unreliable cooling systems, threatening production continuity and escalating maintenance costs. In response, ICS Cool Energy stepped in with a bespoke solution redesigning their cooling infrastructure and setting the stage for production reliability, enhanced sustainability and savings forecasted at approximately 1.7 million Kw/hours for the two sites.

CHALLENGE

The customer operates two plants with over 30 machining centres in one location, and more than 60 at the second one, each dedicated to carrying out final machining operations on unique components to be supplied to major truck and bus builders. With the machines operating 24/7, maintaining uninterrupted cooling of the cutting fluid has been paramount. The existing cooling setup, with onboard chillers fitted on the machining centres in the harsh factory environment, proved vulnerable to breakdowns.

These breakdowns not only resulted in costly maintenance expenses but threatened production schedules, leading to backlogs of components awaiting completion. The fact that the chillers had to work against higher ambient temperatures inside the plant, also contributed to less overall efficiency.

The customer sought a solution for improvement that would not only ensure reliable and uninterrupted production but also increase energy efficiency, reduce maintenance costs, and align with their sustainability goals.

SOLUTION

To address these challenges, ICS Cool Energy proposed a comprehensive solution. A detailed energy analysis was conducted to size the cooling requirements and quantify the potential benefits of the proposed solution. This provided the customer with valuable insights into expected energy savings and decarbonisation benefits.

Recognizing the need for a more robust and reliable cooling system, ICS Cool Energy recommended the installation of a central plant with optimally sized 450kW and 690kW run/standby chillers and pumps located externally. This setup would supply cooling to the machining centres via a ring main, ensuring uninterrupted production even in the event of individual chiller failures. For additional efficiency and sustainability gains, ICS Cool Energy suggested integrating Free Cooling technology that allows to capitalise on natural ambient temperatures to reduce mechanical energy consumption.

The proposed solution not only addressed the immediate production challenges but also aligned with the customer’s sustainability goals, with forecasted reductions in kW/hours usage and decarbonization benefits.

Additionally, ICS Cool Energy guaranteed seamless installation around the customer’s continued production schedules, reaffirming their commitment to minimising disruption and maintaining operational continuity.

The quality of the energy analysis demonstrating potential benefits also allowed the customer to obtain a grant to finance part of the final costs.

RESULT

Following the successful redesign, installation and commissioning of the new cooling system, the customer yielded immediate gains in operational efficiency and improvements in production reliability, with fewer machine stoppages.

In the first plant with 450kW of cooling capacity, ICS Cool Energy calculations estimated annual energy savings of £150,000, based on the original electricity cost quotation. Following the successful installation and commissioning, the second plant with 690kW of cooling capacity was projected to achieve even greater savings, with an estimated annual reduction of £305,000 in electricity costs.

These significant estimated savings can be achieved by a remarkable decrease in projected kW/hours usage, with an estimated 500,000 kW/hours saved at the first plant and an impressive 1.2 million kW/hours at plant two.

The overall outcome not only anticipates surpassing expectations but also positions the customer for long-term success in their pursuit of operational excellence and sustainability.

The ICS Cool Energy team’s dedication to customer satisfaction has been further underscored by their comprehensive service coverage, including 24/7 support and stock availability of spares, ensuring prompt resolution of any operational issues. By addressing the customer’s immediate challenges while laying the foundation for long-term sustainability and operational excellence, the team demonstrated their capability to deliver transformative solutions tailored to the unique needs of their clients.

For more information on ICS Cool Energy complete process temperature control solutions, please visit www.icscoolenergy.com/.

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