Planex is the 50th Victorian business to be awarded an Energy Assessment and Gas Efficiency Grant.
Planex is upgrading the energy efficiency of our Hallam manufacturing plant in Melbourne, with support from Sustainability Victoria. Implementing a Gas Efficiency Grant will enable us to significantly improve productivity in our powder coating line by reducing the gas used in the Pre-Treatment Bath, Dry-Off Oven and Curing Oven, improving productivity by at least 32%.
Having recently installed solar panels to minimise our reliance on the grid, an energy assessment will further assist Planex to improve areas of gas efficiency, enhance productivity and better manage rising manufacturing costs in the face of significant gas pricing increases.
Planex cabinets are constructed from folded sheet metal finished with a fine powder coat paint. Following the cutting and shaping of cabinet components, each piece of folded sheet metal is passed through a pre-treatment bath and a drying oven to remove oils before powder coating. These cabinet pieces are then sprayed with powder before entering one of two curing ovens to produce the finished product components.
Powder Coating is a safe, environmentally friendly coating material, which provides a uniform, durable, high-quality, sustainable and attractive finish. However, powder coating operations at Planex are gas intensive and account for 80% of the gas used on site. Currently, the powder coating line uses around 9,309 GJ per annum of gas resulting in greenhouse gas emissions of 478.5 tonnes of C02-e.
In Stage 1 of the project, also supported by Sustainability Victoria, with an Energy Assessment Grant of roughly $13,000, an independent assessor is helping us identify potential energy efficiency improvements, as well as review pricing tariffs and recommend suitable renewable power alternatives.
In Stage 2 we are making changes to our operations, with the help of a Gas Efficiency Grant of $35,360. The objective is to minimise heat losses in the ovens, increase energy efficiency and reduce gas use and costs. The estimated gas savings for Stage 2 are 3,240 GJ per annum. Based on current gas prices of $8.02 per GJ, this amounts to an overall savings of over $27,000 $27,799 per annum.
We are starting by upgrading the Pre-treatment Bath with the installation of a heat recovery system on the flue of the bath to pre-heat water as it enters the basin. The Pre-treatment Bath is currently heated to 60°C using a 1.5 GJ burner. The installation of a heat recovery system on the flue of the bath will pre-heat the water by about 25°C before entering the bath. This will reduce gas heating requirements by 25°C or 384 GJ/yr.
Next, the Dry-Off Oven and Cure Oven will be installed with special air curtains to prevent heat loss from the ovens. The air curtains placed in each oven are designed to bypass cold air-flow into the ovens, maintaining the correct temperature and improving the quality of the finished product.
Additionally, a heat recovery system will be installed to divert hot air from oven exhaust flues into the Dry-Off Oven. Each of the two-powder cure oven exhaust flues will be fitted with a tee piece, together with an automated butterfly valve to block the air from escaping to the atmosphere. A centrifugal fan will draw and deliver the hot air to the dry off oven. The energy drawn from this air will increase the dry-off oven temperature and save on gas usage.
Planex will commence the Gas Efficiency Grant in January 2018 with the intention to complete the project by mid-year. The manufacturing goal is to minimise heat losses in the ovens, increase energy efficiency and reduce gas use and costs. Subsequent gas savings are estimated at 3,240 GJ per annum based on current gas prices of $8.02 per GJ, which amounts to an overall savings of $27,799 per annum. This will allow Planex to use less gas per annum during manufacturing while producing or processing the same units of output.
Planex strives to reach the highest level of efficiency not only to control costs, but also to stay proudly committed to its philosophy of minimising our impact on the environment and minimising our carbon footprint. This is done by judicious choice and use of resources, making products that last longer, and continual improvements in energy use. Improving our energy efficiency, with support from Sustainability Victoria’s Boosting Business Productivity program, is part of this continuum.
For large gas users like Planex, there are many opportunities to improve production efficiencies such as upgrades to boiler or steam systems, industrial ovens or kilns, or recovering waste heat. With the assistance of The Gas Efficiency and Energy Assessment Grants, local businesses can now take practical action resulting in better gas usage and relieved gas cost pressures which in turn supports Australian manufacturing into the future.
For more info on these grants visit http://www.sustainability.vic.gov.au/grants
Sustainability Victoria supports Victorians to be more sustainable in their everyday life and to help communities to take action on climate change while improving the way Victoria manages its resources. The $6.1 million Boosting Business Productivity program supports businesses to access expert advice and support needed to cut energy and materials costs, reduce greenhouse emissions, and improve energy productivity. The program includes grants for businesses, a sustainable finance service, and various training, events, and information resources.