Faced with a pressing need to replace its unreliable and noisy cooling tower, Kent-based plastics manufacturer SK Engineering took action to negate the potential for system failure by requesting assistance from process cooling and material handling specialist, AB Systems. Within hours, AB Systems delivered an intelligent, two-stage cooling solution. This included a temporary hire chiller to meet the client’s immediate needs, as well as a bespoke, long-term solution to achieve impressive gains in both system performance and efficiency.

SK Engineering, a busy, family-run manufacturer located in Whitstable, specialises in the design, manufacture and production of plastic components. Providing a range of solutions that include tooling, injection moulding, 2D and 3D machining, and pantography, over 20 presses are housed at the company’s facility ranging from 22 to 550 ton.

The plant’s existing cooling system comprised a cooling tower located near to the residential side of the industrial estate. Ageing and nearing the end of its service life, the cooling tower was becoming increasingly uneconomical to run. It was also incurring mounting maintenance and water treatment costs, and becoming more susceptible to component failure. In addition, the cooling tower’s noise levels were rising, which given the factory’s proximity to a residential area posed the potential to become problematic. In order to avoid any serious issues, SK Engineering contacted AB Systems to request a fast and efficient solution. The cooling and materials handling specialist did not disappoint, as Simon Kinnaird, managing director of SK Engineering, explained:

“AB Systems acted extremely quickly. They were on site to assess our requirements within 24 hours and provided a solution almost overnight. The speed of their service meant that we didn’t have to stop production at all.”

Following a full analysis of SK Engineering’s existing cooling system, AB Systems removed the cooling tower by crane and installed a temporary hire chiller to ensure continual operation of the manufacturing process. Subsequently, AB Systems developed a permanent cooling solution that was able to meet the plant’s cooling requirements, satisfy noise restrictions and improve system efficiency, all within the client’s budget.

AB Systems recommended the Nova Friggo RC 120 air-condensed chiller with a pump tank module for the project. Specifically designed for internal installation, the RC 120 chiller has radial fans rather than the axial fans standard to most chillers, thereby enabling ductwork to be connected. The result is an economical solution to noise reduction. In addition, the pump and tank module allows the system to be easily expanded in the future.

The RC 120 chiller also offers excellent energy efficiency, consuming minimal power thanks to its innovative and high quality construction. Features of note include high efficiency heat exchangers, which enable the compressor to maximise the cooling capacity, and a Nova Frigo microprocessor, which ensures stability and precision of the process temperature and balanced operation of the compressors, both of which lead to higher energy savings.

AB Systems connected the pump tank module to the chiller and the plant’s existing pipework via a new pipework manifold system, with provision to connect further pipework and chillers as the system is integrated into the whole factory.

According to Mr Kinnaird, the installation process was extremely smooth: “AB Systems’ provided a turnkey solution and planned everything meticulously so that there was only one very short pre-planned production downtime during the entire project.” And the benefits didn’t stop there: “What was most impressive is that we saw an immediate increase in productivity. It’s improved the performance and efficiency of our process significantly,” he said. “We’ll be working with AB Systems again soon on our pipework.”