The UK's new High Temperature Research Centre (HTRC) has been designed to provide the UK with world-leading R&D capabilities in investment casting – and to tackle the dust extraction and fume extraction challenges these processes involve, both today and in the future, Western Air Ducts has designed and installed a complete, intelligent LEV system.
The showcase £60m facility, part of the Manufacturing Technology Centre campus at Coventry's Ansty Business Park, is the result of a joint collaboration between the University of Birmingham and Rolls Royce plc
The function of the HTRC will be to enable production-scale and advanced manufacturing research in a range of processes including core, wax and shell casting, chemical leaching and etching, and abrasive blasting and emery dress finishing, for aerospace and other industrial sectors – a challenging proposition for the LEV installation – particularly in an R&D environment where the quality of fume extraction and dust extraction could be critical to success.
One of the prime challenges for Western Air Ducts in the design and specification of this complex LEV installation was the client's requirement for a highly flexible solution, not only in the initial phase, but also to "future proof" the building, allowing for the later installation of a wide variety of different machines and processes.
In addition, the design and build of the facility was on an ambitious timescale, so that during the initial LEV design stage, although "zones of activity" had been determined, the shop floor production equipment that was to be vented had not yet been selected.
To meet this critical need for flexibility, Western Air Ducts designed a comprehensive LEV system consisting of eight independent systems, each serving a particular area in the facility, and each being equipped with the company's patented Inteliair™ system – to provide maximum control and energy efficiency.
The innovative principle behind Inteliair is the integration of a programmable logic controller into the air control system. This optimises the efficiency of dust extraction, fume extraction and ventilation systems by continuously monitoring demand and then regulating the extraction or supply of air in accord with that demand. Traditional LEV systems are not able to react to actual demand; being simply either "on" or "off", resulting in low operational efficiency, high energy costs and consequent environmental impact – all of which issues were overcome by the Western Air Ducts solution.
Although the Inteliair system can be retrofitted, the fact that it was in this case specified from the outset, meant that the HTRC system could be accurately sized based on actual usage (as opposed to the total number of positions) resulting in a reduction in initial capital equipment cost.
As MD, Chris Lintern, explains; "We are delighted to have won this prestigious contract, which was awarded after a competitive tender process that involved extensive discussion with the client as, with such a complex project, it was vital that the selected supplier would be able to work in close partnership with the client."
"We have worked with Rolls-Royce on several previous LEV installations and they were therefore already aware of the benefits of the comprehensive service that Western Air Ducts offers and the advantages that the Inteliair™ system provides in terms of optimised efficiency. In this case particularly, the flexibility of the design will form an essential component in the future success of the building."