The origins of the world’s most advanced industrial ventilation control system can be traced back to a very different industry – filmmaking. It is here that Petr Litomisky spent the majority of his early life, working in Hollywood as a cinematographer.
In the 1980s, Petr came up with the original clapper-with-color-chart, an ingenious way to ensure color consistency across shoots that would eventually become the industry standard. Petr would use his clapper on his shoots, and gradually friends and acquaintances started asking him to make them some as well. By the mid 1990s, Petr was spending long hours in his garage shop making clappers.
Petr’s work making clappers was slowed by the need to operate the ventilation system that kept his shop clean – he would have to manually turn on the dust collector, open the blast gate to the machine he was using, and then close the blast gate and turn off the dust collector again. This was auxiliary work that was slowing Petr down and keeping him from focusing on doing the woodworking he loved. Surely, he thought, there must be a better way.
Petr approached his nephew, Ales Litomisky, who was at that time running a successful control system company that continues to operate globally to this day. Together, they came up with the concept for the system: a sensor at each machine to detect when it is making dust, an electronic gate in the duct leading to the machine, and an intelligent brain controlling all of it, from the gates to the dust collector. This is the basic principle on which Ecogate’s patented system continues to operate to this day.
In 1998, Petr and Ales had a working prototype, and Petr called up a favor with Dr. Sun from Sunhill Machinery to show the system at work at the Sunhill Machinery booth at the IWF Fair in Atlanta in 1998.
By the time Petr and Ales got to the booth on the first morning of the show, there was group of 20 people in suits huddled around their exhibit. It was in that moment and during the conversations that followed that it became clear that the potential of Ecogate extended far beyond garage shops: they could save factories hundreds of thousands of dollars year after year.
One of Ecogate’s first industrial customers was Glen Armand Furniture in Alexandria, LA. Glen Armand’s 16,000 square foot facility was designed with the Ecogate system in mind. Says Glen, “I am really pleased with the Ecogate system. It has been in continuous operation since 1999, 6 or 7 days a week for 12 hours per day. Because of Ecogate, I can use a much smaller fan and dust collector than I would otherwise have to, and the energy savings have been enormous.”
“I am really pleased with the Ecogate system. It has been in continuous operation since 1999, 6 or 7 days a week for 12 hours per day. Because of Ecogate, I can use a much smaller fan and dust collector than I would otherwise have to, and the energy savings have been enormous.”
– Glen Armand, Glen Armand Furniture
As a result of the first industrial installations, Petr & Ales realized that the Ecogate system had a number of auxiliary benefits in addition to the significant energy savings. Workers would routinely come up to thank Petr or Ales for noticeably reducing the noise levels inside the factory, and praise the system for ensuring all waste materials were removed. Maintenance managers would point out that filters needed replacing less frequently, because less air needed to be filtered through them on a daily basis. To this day, Petr sees these as important benefits of the system, because it means that everyone in a factory – from the workers on the factory floor to the owners – benefits from an Ecogate installation.
Eventually, Ecogate’s industrial experience would lead to the development of the Ecogate Master System, with intuitive controls for up to 130 workstations and 4 ventilation systems, easy setup, air-velocity monitoring at all drops, a web-based analytics interface, and most-importantly the best energy-efficiency in the world. Meanwhile, Ecogate has spun off GrnGate to focus on the garage shops that were at Ecogate’s roots.
Today, Ecogate has installations in the USA, Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom and continental Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Our customers are in a number of industries including woodworking, print & packaging, welding, pharmaceuticals, aerospace & automotive and others. We typically save our customers over 65% on their exhaust ventilation costs, which can translate to over 20% off an entire factory’s electricity bill.
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