Cuts thousands of pounds from its energy bills
A thriving factory in Wrexham has cut tens of thousands of pounds from its energy bills by using five Mitsubishi Electric Ecodan CAHV air source heat pumps to heat water used in its production process.
Ball Packaging’s plant in Wales produces up to 7 million drinks cans per day, operating seven days a week. Since its inception, the plant had used the same method of heating on its four production lines which was based on six immersion heaters. This was proving increasingly costly.
A mixture of water and oil is used in the process and this needs heating to between 45°C and 55°C before it is sprayed onto machinery.
Focused on reducing carbon emissions
Ball Packaging was also focused on reducing carbon emissions, gas consumption and electricity consumption. While searching for a technology that could help achieve these aims while meeting the factory’s heating needs, the client became aware of the potential of air source heat pumps.
With these goals in mind, installer Wall-Lag took on a job that had never been attempted before. Business Development Manager, Andy Gomm of Wall-Lag explains: “Ball Packaging had an underground tank with 40,000 litres of fluid, of which 97 per cent is water and three per cent is oil. Although this is heated, it is actually used as a coolant, which is pumped around the factory and sprayed on the machinery such as the cutting jigs, then returned back to the tank. It is an integral part of the manufacturing process.
“Changing from the immersion heaters to air source heat pumps was a world-first, so we didn’t know it was going to work, but we knew there was no reason it wouldn’t work.”
Despite this being the first application of its kind, the Wall-Lag team encountered no unique challenges during installation, with the five x 43KW CAHV units put in place over a three-week period.
Designed for large applications
Specifically designed for large applications, the Ecodan CAHV air source heat pump monobloc system can operate as a single unit, or form part of a multiple unit system. The CAHV also comes equipped with a wide range of controller features as standard.
A multiple unit system has the ability to cascade available units on and off to meet the load from a building. As an example of this modulation, a 16-unit system allows 0.5kW increments of capacity, from 18kW all the way up to 688kW. This level of modulation is unprecedented within the heating industry and with cascade and rotation built in as standard; the Ecodan CAHV system is perfectly suited to a wide range of commercial applications.
At Ball Packaging, just three weeks after installation started, the water/oil mixture was being heated exactly as required but using only 30 per cent of the energy.
Steve Ellis, Factory Maintenance Manager says: “We obviously knew what we were spending before, but as well as cost we also wanted to ensure reliability of the system. It was only when we were alerted to the possibility of the use of heat pumps for the same job that we investigated the idea.”
“In terms of the energy use comparison, it’s an incredible change for our business. We had four 36kW immersion heaters and two 54kw units, all on most of the time, pulling around 250kW. If I go and look at the system now with the heat pumps installed, it will be between the 30kW and 40kW mark. The most I’ve seen it use is 60kW.”
Incredibly Stable and Consistent
In addition to this, the Ecodan CAHV system has proved incredibly stable and consistent in providing water temperatures that vary by less than +/-0.5°C, regardless of the time of day or ambient outdoor temperatures.
Full energy monitoring has been installed to further interrogate the performance of the systems, with the application process for payback via the Renewable Heat Incentive also underway. Andy Gomm estimates this could bring in tens of thousands of pounds per year over the 20-year period of the scheme for commercial installations.
He says: “The previous method being used in this factory is the standard way the job is done in most factories and yet the payback on the system we have installed is about 18 months.
“As installers and manufacturers, we don’t know what’s behind the gates of most factories and the factories don’t know about the technology, but with examples like this, we have shown the potential for large industry to benefit from heat pump technology.”