Ecogate-powered Dust Extraction For New Starbank Facility

UK-based Dust Control Systems Ltd. (DCS) has completed a major installation at Starbank Panel Products’ new manufacturing facility at Newton-le-Willows in the England, complete with Ecogate controls for outstanding performance and energy-efficiency.

After almost 2 years of planning and construction, Starbank Panel Products Ltd is now fully operational at its new 16 acre site on the Sankey Valley Industrial Estate, just a short distance from the premises occupied by the company for the past 26 years.

Starbank’s managing director, Phil Darbyshire, explains: “This move provides us with a platform to further grow the company and, just as importantly, ensures that the services we provide will meet our customers’ changing demands in the future. Since acquiring the site we have comprehensively redeveloped the existing 116,000 sq ft building; doubling our manufacturing space, and allowing the opportunity for increased production capacity and flexibility.”

All production machines are fitted with Ecogate automatic dampers which open and close as machines come on-line or shut down – the end result is a highly-efficient, optimised system that only uses energy when required.

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The World’s First Pursuit-Rated Hybrid Police Car

This month, Ford announced the Ford Police Responder, the world’s first pursuit-rated hybrid police vehicle.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company.

Hybrids are generally thought of as vehicles primarily for those whose greatest concern is fuel efficiency, so let’s take a moment to think about why a police department – where performance matters more than anything else – may be interested in a hybrid vehicle. And, because this is the Ecogate blog after all, let’s see if we can draw some parallels between why hybrid technology makes sense for a police car and why Ecogate Intelligent Ventilation makes sense in the industrial dust/fume/mist collection space.

The common thread is using resources intelligently and on-demand.

Fuel Efficiency

The first headline-grabber is the improved fuel efficiency: Ford claims the Responder will get an estimated 38 miles per gallon (MPG), compared to the 18 MPG of Ford’s non-hybrid Police Interceptor Sedan. It’s estimated this will lead to an annual savings of $3,800 per year per vehicle on fuel costs.

Similarly, Ecogate typically reduces a dust collection system’s power use by more than 50% (average savings are 68%), and the financial savings are significant. We’ve built this handy estimator you can use to predict the savings for your facility – it takes less than 30 seconds to get an estimate.


Police cars spend a lot of time standing still with the engine running. This wastes gas, and adds wear & tear on the engine, and increases the frequency with which oil changes and other maintenance is required. The Responder, on the other hand, turns off the gasoline engine while the vehicle is parked. This leads to saved fuel, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased comfort for the occupants.

Ecogate also stops motors when they’re not needed – during lunch or other shift breaks, Ecogate automatically stops the fan motors based on workstation activity. As soon as a machine requires dust collection, Ecogate turns the motors back on. This results not only in significant electricity savings, but also much greater comfort for employees inside the factory – during breaks, the inside of the factory is quiet because dust collection isn’t running needlessly.

While we’re on the subject of noise levels and comfort: by providing suction only at machines that need it at any given point of time, Ecogate actually reduces the noise level inside the factory even while dust collection is running. At our installation at Synsor Retail Innovation, we measured this difference to be 8 dB – immediately noticeable.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Reduced Frequency of Oil Changes

Because the gasoline engine in the Responder runs for fewer hours per day than in comparable gasoline-only vehicles, the intervals between oil changes are extended, saving time and money.

We wrote an article about how Ecogate approximately doubles the filter media life on dust collection systems last month – take a look there for details.

Controlling the fan motor with a variable frequency drive also significantly reduces the wear & tear on the motor by eliminating the inrush current that occurs when a fan without a variable frequency drive is turned on. This is significant because motors can draw several times their normal full-load current when first energized, placing significant stress and strain on the motor.


It’s not all about fuel-efficiency and savings with hybrids. By combining the instant power delivery of an electric motor with a gasoline engine, hybrids can actually outperform gasoline-only vehicles in acceleration speed.

For some confirmation of the instant power delivery of electric motors, here’s a video of an electric 5-seater sedan taking on a hypercar in a drag race:

It’s just part of the reason why the Los Angeles Police Department is trying a Tesla Model S as a police cruiser.

Tesla Model S Police Cars
Image courtesy of Tesla Motors

Ecogate also delivers superior performance. By directing suction to machines that actually need it, Ecogate improves the performance of undersized systems. Here are more details on how and why that works.

In the end, with the right hybrid vehicle, you get better performance with lower costs – just like with Ecogate on your dust collection system.

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More information on the Ford Responder:

Double your Filter Media Life!

Did you think, “Yeah, right” when you read the headline? Well, read on – we have the engineering and the anecdotal evidence to back it up.

For many years, our customers have been reporting that their filter media last a lot longer after the Ecogate system installation. This is not quite intuitive – Ecogate reduces the total air volume going into the dust collector, but not the amount of dust. What gives?

For a technical explanation of this phenomenon, we turned Mike Althouse, the Director of Filtration Technology at Schenck Process. The key, Mike says, is the velocity at which the dirty passes through the filter medium.

Dust collector diagram. Image courtesy of Schenck Process.
Dust collector diagram. Image courtesy of Schenck Process.

Filter media are generally selected based on the air-to-cloth ratio – the volumetric flow rate of air through the dust collector’s inlet duct divided by the total cloth area in the filters. The result is in units of velocity.

This velocity determines how deep into the filter medium the dust gets – the higher the velocity, the deeper the dust. The deeper the dust goes, the harder it is to remove it during cleaning.

Cleaning the filters too frequently can actually shorten the filter life – every time the filter is cleaned, the fabric is stretched. This stretching is wear and tear that eventually necessitates the filter being replaced.

For optimal performance and filter life, it is therefore important to clean thoughtfully – only when it’s actually necessary. For example, cleaning based on the measured filter differential pressure is better than cleaning based on a fixed schedule.

Changing the filters in a dust collector. Image courtesy of Schenck Process.
Changing the filters in a dust collector. Image courtesy of Schenck Process.


By monitoring machine activity at all times and providing air flow to machines that need it on-demand, Ecogate ensures machines have good ventilation while always maintaining appropriate transport velocities in the ducting. Most of the time, the air velocity at which dust passes through the filter media is reduced, which decreases the wear & tear on the filter medium and therefore extends the filter life.

This, of course, is in addition to saving an average 68% on the power needed to run the dust collection system, as well as a host of other benefits.

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Acknowledgements: big thanks to Mike Althouse from Schenck Process for technical consultation for this article.