Built in 1950, A-Tech Fabrications' building was designed for large-scale production and was not originally intended to be thermally efficient. With high ceilings and frequently opening roller shutter doors, large leak rates, and many air changes per hour, it is a challenge to heat such a poorly insulated building. The size of the area needing to be heated is 50m x 18m x 8m.
Located in the North East of England, A-Tech Fabrications specialises in designing and manufacturing bespoke industrial applications for example automotive stillages, gravity conveyors and autonomous handling machinery for major blue chip companies globally.
The existing heating system consisted of three conventional gas-fired burners with a combined heat output of 360 kilowatts. The heating system was suspended from the ceiling at a height of 5 metres from the floor, and it relied on natural gas as its fuel. It consumed 31.3 cubic metres per hour of natural gas. All three burners were directly fired with a flue that exhausted emissions to outside, along with exhausting a large amount of waste heat that was lost up to the flue at 150 degrees Celsius.
The original heating system was designed to provide centralised heating, which meant that one third of the factory would be heated at any one time. However, this created uneven heat distribution and operators were left either too hot or too cold depending on where they worked within the factory. Another problem with this design is that in case of a breakdown large areas of the factory would have no heating or hot water. This could result in costly crisis calls being made to gas engineers.
Another expense with this heating system was the servicing and maintenance schedule. The installation height was about 5 metres from the floor, requiring special lifting equipment for servicing. This made the job more expensive and disruptive to customers.
A-Tech Fabrications approached X-Heat looking for a heating system that could provide greater heating performance, save them money, improve reliability and reduce ongoing maintenance costs. X-Heat's Nano-Heat system was retrofitted into the existing factory and made no modifications to the fabric of the building, improving the overall heating performance by increasing the working temperature of the building and reducing gas consumption by 60%, with the scope to increase this further.
The factory consists of cells, such as welding bays and machine shops. X-Heat was able to provide individual heaters to each cell area, creating a de-centralised zonal heating system. All the heaters could independently operate and provide sufficient warmth to each area or collectively run and provide sufficient background heating of the whole factory. X-Heats zonal approach dramatically reduced heating costs by only needing to heat when and where needed, each nano-heater came with its own heating controller which was set to come on at the start of shift and finish at the end of shift; this system allowed A-Tech Fabrications to control each heater and eliminate overrun or waste heat reducing energy consumption further.
Gas metres were installed inline on each zone of the new heating system to collect the total energy consumed in kilowatt-hours. The same method was applied to the conventional heating system to provide accurate energy consumptions.