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Rising energy costs threaten production across the UK. Could these three solutions help you to minimise energy wastage and future-proof your operations?

The high gas prices that in 2021 led industry leaders to warn “factories across the country could stop production” have continued to challenge manufacturers throughout the UK. 

Production must be profitable but many margins have already been squeezed by the added costs incurred from the scarcity of raw materials and global supply chain disruption.

“It was very clear across all of the sectors that there are serious risks of factory stoppages as a result of the costs of gas being too high to bear [with] a gradual knock-on effect through supply chains, right the way across manufacturing, consumer retail and other products.” Andrew Large, director-general at the Confederation of Paper Industries, ‘Energy crisis could halt factory production’, The Guardian

Pricing strategies are complex machines in their own right. The right technology investment now could help you to minimise disruption and future-proof energy costs. Over the course of the pandemic, we launched three such solutions. What are they and how could innovating now help you to secure your business model and keep your operations running?

To find out more about reducing energy costs and running a greener, more sustainable operation, download our free guide to improving energy efficiency today.


Energy-Saving System

In 2020 we launched our Energy-saving System for vacuum furnaces. The system works by automating the shutdown and restart of all your vacuum furnaces, removing your reliance on manual processes. Crucially, it safely reduces your energy costs. 

If available, the system can also switch the quench/purge gas from argon to less-expensive nitrogen in response to the loaded program cycle, further reducing costs.

The system incorporates power monitoring to show power consumed and estimated power saved (in kWh, £ and kg.CO2). This can be downloaded or sent electronically using our Remote Monitoring System, making visible the cumulative energy savings and cost benefits.

How much could you save?

For the electrical-power saving features, VFE has customer feedback of an average £15k saving per year per furnace. For the gas switching, nitrogen is approximately 25% of the cost of argon so every cycle able to be operated on nitrogen rather than argon will save that proportionate cost (dependent on furnace volume).

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RoMan Transformers

Energy reduction can be further compounded with our RoMan Transformers. Because they are water-cooled, they are smaller and lighter than traditional transformers, so they can be installed much closer to the heat source. The close coupling boosts the equipment’s energy-saving properties by helping to reduce electrical losses in the power delivery system. 

How much could you save?

In the example on this page, a customer made 764kWh of daily savings by replacing the voltage regulating transformer on a furnace with a RoMan heating transformer. With a power billing rate of $0.10/kWh, there are $76 savings per day. Over a year of use, just from power (kW) optimisation alone, this furnace will save almost $28,000.

Discover the story behind VFE’s partnership with RoMan.


Management and control systems

For large scale operations, site-wide control of furnace and autoclave performance is key to maximising efficiency and reducing waste. In these cases, our management and control systems (FMCS/AMCS) will transform your overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Unlock energy savings from each upgraded machine by tracking machine availability, productivity, and performance in real time, at scale, all from an easily accessible dashboard.

Click to find out more about our FMCS and AMCS solutions and how your operations could benefit.


Technology solutions to business challenges

As the pandemic shifts into endemic status, it becomes increasingly clear that we must learn to adapt our operations accordingly. Leaps in energy costs that many hoped would be short-lived have persisted, challenging the stamina of manufacturers across the UK.

“Gas is already in tight supply globally and has reached record market price highs in recent months. In January, the US bank Goldman Sachs said it expected gas prices to be twice as high as normal until 2025.” The Guardian

How well is your organisation’s pricing strategy holding up and what steps could you take at an innovation level to help stakeholders from across the business to better manage it?

Investments in new technologies now may seem like an additional cost but this will be outweighed by the long-term savings generated through increased energy efficiency, all the while driving greener, cleaner production in line with ever-present net-zero targets. 

To find out more about reducing energy costs, staying compliant, and running a greener, more sustainable operation, download our free guide to improving energy efficiency today.

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