Introducing Support for Cascading Fans

We are pleased to announce that we have developed support for dust collection systems which use cascading fans.

In the Cascading Fans setup, multiple fans control air flow into a single dust collector. The fans are operated in parallel – but not all fans are necessarily active at all times. For example, when only a few machines are active at the same time, the air volume required to provide good dust collection at that point of time is fairly small. At that time, only a single fan may be running. As additional machines are turned on and require dust collection, additional fans will be brought online.

Dust Extraction System with Multiple Main Ducts
Dust Extraction System with Multiple Main Ducts

This cascading fans setup is particularly common in parts of Europe. The biggest advantages of this setup materialize when combined with multiple smaller main ducts. In this setup, the system can be operated at a very wide range of air volumes, which leads to high electricity savings during periods when very few machines require dust extraction.

Software Updates

This functionality has now been integrated into our state-of-the-art greenBOX Master controller.

Ecogate greenBOX Master dust collection controller
Ecogate greenBOX Master dust collection controller

The greenBOX Master now supports controlling up to 9 fans in a cascade for each dust collection system. With the ability to manage up to four separate dust collection systems, that gives the greenBOX Master the ability to control up to 4×9 = 36 variable frequency drives / fans.

In addition to fans used in a cascade, the updated greenBOX supports additional fan operation modes:

  • parallel / serial fan mode, where multiple fans are always run at precisely the same speed
  • lead & backup fan mode, where the system can quickly switch from one fan to another in case of any issues with the lead fan. This is typically used in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, as well as in hospitals and other safety-critical applications.
  • optimized cascading mode – this mode controls a fan cascade and intelligently eliminates the issues caused by operating identical fans at different speeds, where each fan generates different pressure

The greenBOX also automatically balances wear between all available fans by rotating the order in which the fans are brought online. For example, in the lead & backup fan mode, the two fans switch their roles – the fan that is the lead on one day will be the backup fan on another day. Similar rotations are implemented for the cascading fans modes.

Selecting any of these new modes is a simple as selecting the desired option using the greenBOX Master touch screen.

Ecogate greenBOX Master fan mode selector
Ecogate greenBOX Master fan mode selector

The parameters of all the variable frequency drives are set directly from the greenBOX, which means making any changes is also easy. As before, fan power consumption (and many other metrics) is recorded and made available through our web-based analytics platform.

Immediate Success at Crystal Doors

One of the first installations that takes advantage of this new technology is at Crystal Doors, the manufacturer of bespoke vinyl-wrapped doors and accessories located near Manchester in the United Kingdom. The company has a reputation for its environmental quality and efficiency achievements.

Crystal Doors Manufacturing Facility
Crystal Doors Manufacturing Facility

Through investments into new machines, the facility was operating near the limits of the existing dust collection system’s capacity. That is why Crystal Doors approached Dust Control Systems Limited (DCS).

DCS recommended and installed a new filter unit which uses a flow-optimized cascade of five 30 kW fans.

Crystal Doors Variable Frequency Drives
Crystal Doors Variable Frequency Drives

The whole system is controlled by the state-of-the-art greenBOX Master controller.

Ecogate optimized extraction systems automatically adjust power output to the fans, in real time, to match the exact requirements of the manufacturing process, resulting in significant energy and cost savings – at Crystal Doors, early indications show that the new system is running at almost half the cost of the previous installation.

You can learn more about the installation at Crystal Doors here.

Conclusions

With this new set of software updates, Ecogate brings its state-of-the-art intelligent dust collection controls to a wider range of potential applications.

If you want to find out what Ecogate can do for you, get in touch here.

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Visit Ecogate at Fabtech in Chicago, November 6-9, 2017

This November 6-9, Ecogate will be demonstrating our intelligent on-demand controls at Fabtech in Chicago – North America’s Largest Metal Forming, Fabricating, Welding and Finishing Expo.

Ecogate Trade Show Booth

We’ll be talking about the benefits Ecogate has brought to our customers in the welding, metalworking, aerospace & automotive industries – from substantially lower costs to enhanced safety.

You’ll be able to find us at booth B18089 in McCormick Place.

If you would like a complimentary pass for the show, please get in touch – we’ll be happy to get you one.

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Dust Collection in Schools

There are a few things that make schools unique from a dust collection perspective.

Ultimately, the reason behind the differences is that the purpose of the two environments – schools and factories – is different: one is focused on creating products while the other is focused on instruction & learning.

Madison Area Technical College Cabinetmaking and Millwork Program Director Patrick Molzahn with students.
Madison Area Technical College Cabinetmaking and Millwork Program Director Patrick Molzahn with students.

Here are some of the ways in which this difference manifests itself:

Need for quiet. In schools, a premium is typically placed on the noise level in the environment: the quieter the better. This allows for effective instruction. In particular, if the dust collection system can be off while no machines are running, the instructor can easily explain material without having to raise his or her voice. This creates an environment conducive to learning.

Low machine utilization. The utilization of machines in schools can vary greatly, and can frequently be quite low. This is not only because of the time dedicated to instruction, but also because instruction is frequently focused on a particular process or step in the manufacturing process, so machines involved in other work are off during this time.

Hours. The dust collectors in schools typically operate for far fewer hours than their counterparts in factories. This is largely determined by the class schedule.

LEED Credits. Energy efficiency is important to many schools as more than a matter of economic sense. Frequently, schools aim to be as energy-efficient as possible as a matter of principle. LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – is the leading benchmark in green building, and many schools get LEED certified.

Cutting-edge technology. Schools train the workforce of the future. As a result, schools place emphasis on using modern technology and cutting-edge tools to prepare their students to be effective employees in the workplace of the future.

Ecogate in Schools

Over the past 17 or so years, Ecogate controls have been installed in educational facilities around the world precisely because they provide value in the metrics that are important to schools.

Our projects include systems in cabinetmaking labs, navy shipyard training facilities, art & sculpture shops, and more.

NYU Steinhardt School sculpture shop
NYU Steinhardt School sculpture shop

Ecogate works by providing dust/fume collection precisely when & where it is needed based on machine activity. The system turns on and off automatically – meaning that when the instructor is explaining new material and no machines are running, the environment is completely silent.

As soon as a machine needs dust collection, the system powers on automatically a provides suction where it is needed. Automatic blast gates open to active machines and close to inactive machines. This lets a variable frequency drive adjust the speed of the dust collector fan to match demand in real-time, resulting in substantial electricity savings. Typically, Ecogate-equipped systems in schools use 70% to 85% less electricity than before the Ecogate installation.

This outstanding energy efficiency also qualifies Ecogate-equipped buildings for LEED credits.

To learn more about how Ecogate dust collection controls work, click here.

Case Study: Madison Area Technical College

Madison Area Technical College is a technical and community college in Madison, Wisconsin. The Cabinetmaking and Millwork program at the college provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to plan and complete projects in cabinetry, furniture, and millwork. In the program’s well-equipped shop, students can work on larger scale projects in partnership with local businesses to gain comprehensive experience.

MATC Cabinetmaking Lab
Madison Area Technical College Cabinetmaking and Millwork Program Director Patrick Molzahn with students Lauren and Felix. Photo courtesy of Tadsen Photography.

When the Cabinetmaking Lab was looking for a new dust collection system, they reached out to local HVAC specialists and Ecogate dealer AirFlow, Inc. The new system uses 81% less electricity than a traditional system without Ecogate controls.

Cabinetmaking and Millwork Program Director Patrick Molzahn loves his automated Ecogate Monthly Summary email, which provides an overview of the dust collection system’s performance: “The machine utilization report is really cool. It can inform decisions such as where to focus preventative maintenance.”

Madison Area Technical College summary for January 2016
Madison Area Technical College – Ecogate Summary for January 2016

You can read the full Madison Area Technical College case study here.

Case Study: NYU Sculpture Shop

The NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development was founded in 1890. The School’s art department features a well-equipped sculpture shop, which includes both woodworking and metalworking & welding machines. Machines include a CNC router, panel saw, Sawstop table saw, compound miter saw, vertical and horizontal bandsaws for both metal/woodworking, an air compressor system and downdraft table for sanding.

“It’s important to us to have a well-equipped, modern shop,” says Sculpture Shop Manager Gustabo Velazquez. That’s why the school was quick to embrace the Ecogate on-demand dust collection revolution: Ecogate was first installed in the shop in 2006.

"It's important to us to have a well-equipped, modern shop," says NYU Sculpture Shop Manager Gustabo Velazquez
“It’s important to us to have a well-equipped, modern shop,” says NYU Sculpture Shop Manager Gustabo Velazquez

“The Ecogate system has been super,” says Gustabo.

You can read the full NYU Sculpture Shop case study here.

In conclusion…

The demands on dust collection in schools are somewhat different than the demands on dust collection in a factory – and Ecogate controls rise to the challenge. Here’s a brochure outlining the benefits Ecogate provides to our customers in schools.

If you’d like to learn more about what Ecogate can do for you, you can get in touch with us here.

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