Plastic manufacturer stays chilled to keep up with demand

A producer of electrical cable management products in Tameside has overcame a significant cooling issue thanks to energy efficiency funding from Greater Manchester’s GC Business Growth Hub.

Established in 1977, Plastube Ltd is a family-run business that supplies cable management products such as nylon cable glands to electrical industry leaders.

Overworked chillers

The vast majority of Plastube’s products are produced and moulded on-site at its factory in Stalybridge using seven injection moulding machines.

Chilled water is passed through the tools to harden the molten plastic before being released, with each machine equipped with its own individual chiller.

However, an increase in production left the system unable keep pace with demand after waste heat from the overworked chillers began causing excessive unit failure in peak summer months.

‘Free cooling’ solution

Plastube worked with chiller supplier, Airflow Compressors and Pnumatics Ltd, and environmental business advisors at Greater Manchester’s GC Business Growth Hub to solve the problem by replacing the seven chillers with a single unit. 

The new unit would be located externally to keep waste heat away from the cooling process and from employees - providing a more pleasant work environment.

The Hub worked with the chiller manufacturer to calculate the energy saving potential of the new equipment and provided 50 per cent capital grant funding, enabling Plastube to purchase a special chiller that could provide ‘free cooling’ using air from outside the factory.

The ‘free cooling’ equipment allows the chiller to reduce its load when ambient air temperature drops below 15°C. 

Energy saving and future-proofing

The £21,500 investment has resolved the cooling issue and is already saving more than 88MWh of energy a year – reducing energy costs by over £10,500. When taking the Hub’s grant into account, the total payback period is just over one year.

Simon Barrow, managing director of Plastube, said: “Sales are increasing and our new chiller is sized to allow us to connect more injection moulding machines when needed – future-proofing the business.

“Thanks to the innovation from our supplier and financial support from the GC Business Growth Hub, the end solution was also highly energy efficient one.”

To find out more about the Hub’s support for Greater Manchester SMEs, or to read other success stories, click here.



Posted under General Interest, Energy Efficiency and Other Manufacturing on 13 June 2018