Chris Franklin, MD at Ranheat Engineering continues his series of articles exclusively for Furniture and Joinery Production, this month discussing the importance of using industrial biomass boilers and heaters within timber manufacturing processes.

With rising energy prices across all industries, the replacement of fossil fuels with Biomass is the way forward, particularly for the UK woodworking industry.

The major energy suppliers such as BP and Shell announced record profits from the sale of industrial energy, causing politicians to demand so called “windfall taxation”.

Within the UK woodworking industry, often the largest single use of electricity consumption is the dust extraction system. The dust extraction system is a legal requirement to keep workers in the industry safe from dust that machining wood inevitably makes.

How this dust is then disposed of is essential to the smooth running of a business. Huge savings in electricity running costs can be made by the correct selection of equipment. Extraction systems using bags for disposal are messy and time consuming. Having gone to the trouble of installing bespoke extraction equipment, you then expose your workforce to dust each time they change the bags. Disposing of fine dusts is expensive and a waste of an ideal fuel.

For over 30 years, Ranheat Engineering has manufactured a range of industrial wood-fired boilers and heaters specifically to burn fine dusts. An important consideration is the link between the dust extraction system and the biomass boiler or heater. Ranheat are not tied to, or owned by a dust extraction company, giving them the opportunity to work on a project with a dust extraction company best suited to the needs of a woodworking company, rather than a “one company fits all needs approach”. There are over 100 dust extraction suppliers in the UK and Ranheat have worked with most of them.

Traditional dust extraction systems used to have a large paddle blade fan that all of the wood waste passed through. This was then separated by a rotary valve, before being transferred to a transport fan to blow the wood waste into a bin or lorry for disposal. Often the transfer fan was oversized to cope with the large amounts of waste it has to handle when the dust extraction filter cleans.

Ranheat are developing a new series of vertical centreless auger systems to go from the dust extraction system outlet to the storage silo that then feeds a boiler or heater with dust. An integrated load-sensitive control system keeps the centreless auger system full and minimises electrical consumption. Typically, a 18kW fan as traditionally used can be replaced with a 3kW motor inverter controlled.

In January, to maintain its position as the leading UK manufacturer of industrial wood-fired heater and boilers, Ranheat installed a new CNC plasma cutter able to cut mild steel up to 25mm thick. This six-figure investment gives Ranheat the best quality profile cutting equipment to take them forward with their continuous programme of research and development.

We chose a British manufacturer for the new plasma cutter. We previously had a Komatsu but, with Brexit, spares and consumable all had to come from Japan via Germany. Our new Esprit Plasma cutter is manufactured in Nottingham, making service and spares a local operation. 

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