Dust Control Systems (DCS) has recently commissioned a new centralised dust extraction system for Distinction Doors – the UK’s leading supplier of GRP composite doors. 

Based in South Yorkshire, just off junction 36 of the M1, Distinction Doors is a trade-only supplier to the UK door fabrication industry. The company has experienced a meteoric rise in success since the company’s chairman, Drew Wright, first introduced composite doors to the UK back in 1999. Since then, over three million Distinction doors have been installed in the UK, and the company carries a stock of over 60,000 door blanks in its 86,000 sq ft of warehouse space.

Distinction Doors now supplies GRP composite door blanks to fabricators the length and breadth of the UK but, as well as supplying fabricators, the company has its own large production area dedicated to machining door blanks to commercial customers’ bespoke specifications – doors are individually sized, and window apertures, letterbox slots, and lock and hinge rebates, are all machined to meet specific requirements.

With an ever-growing order book, and the factory working to capacity 24 hours a day, five days a week, Distinction’s management team made the decision to increase production capacity by investing in another CNC machining centre. 

A section of the spacious production area at Distinction Doors – Ecogate’s dampers are fitted in the main ducting runs

An order was placed with SCM for a new Accord 30 FX but, before it arrived, a complete re-planning of the production area was required. The company’s four CNC machines now occupy a dedicated, spacious area of the warehouse – a move which demanded the installation of a complete new dust extraction system, including an externally-sited modular filter unit to replace the dust plant DCS had installed nearly nine years ago.

Dust Control Systems has been a longstanding supplier to Distinction Doors, and the filter being replaced was originally installed by DCS when the company relocated to its current site in 2008. 

The old filter had coped with several additional machine installations over the years, but the new CNC was just a bridge too far, and Distinction Doors’ production manager, Andy Copeland, invited his namesake Andy Hives, company sales manager at DCS, to appraise the changed extraction requirements. 

“A major consideration for DCS was that installation of the new extraction plant had to coincide with delivery and commissioning of the new Accord,” says Andy Copeland, “but then all the existing machines had to be moved one at a time, over an extended period, to fit in with our production schedules.” 

The DCS installation team completed construction of the modular filter unit, and fitted new ducting throughout the production area in early July 2016. Following commissioning of the new CNC machine, DCS engineers returned to site on several occasions, as individual machines were relocated, and final commissioning and completion of the installation was completed in December.

DCS installed a Schuko Ecovar Validus modular filter unit with 46,850m3/hr extraction capacity

At the heart of the system is a state-of-the-art Schuko Ecovar Valdius filter unit – a modular, galvanised-steel unit, designed for negative pressure operation, with power provided by integral cascading fan units. 

This flow-optimised configuration of four 22kW fans provides excellent energy efficiency, and clean side operation minimises fan maintenance, and ensures durability, by avoiding contamination by the abrasive waste dust generated by high speed machining of GRP composite door blanks.

In the event of an explosion, back pressure explosion isolation valves are designed to prevent the effects of a pressure wave and flames travelling back along ductwork and into the factory

With an extraction capacity of 46,850m3/hr, the system installed by DCS will not only satisfy current requirements, but will also accommodate Distinction’s plans to upgrade existing machinery – an order has already been placed for a second Accord 30 FX to replace one of the company’s older CNC machines.

Dust-laden air extracted from the factory is drawn through anti-static, polyester needle-felt tubular filter bags, and clean air is dispersed to atmosphere.

The waste dust is continuously removed from the filter media by a regeneration cleaning train – an array of four 4kW cleaning fans traverses above the filter bags, generating a reverse airflow which forces the dust to detach from the filter media, and a pneumatic-mechanical shaking system releases any remaining deposits. 

All waste drops down into the hopper section where a chain conveyor distributes the waste dust, preventing blockages and maintaining a consistent flow to the rotary valve which discharges the waste pressure-free.

Waste is discharged pressure-free, via a rotary valve, and then transferred to collection bags by a series of three screw conveyors

From here, waste is transferred to collection bags by a series of three screw conveyors. Machining door blanks with a moulded fibreglass outer skin and polyurethane insulating core generates extremely fine dust, but, with a relatively low material loading, the waste is safely and conveniently collected in twin bulk bags. Level sensors ensure the bulk bags are never overfilled, and slide gates above each filling station operate alternately to allow safe removal of filled bags.

The new dust plant also provides extraction for two edgebanders, a beam saw, and a sander but, even though Distinction Doors operates a 24 hour production schedule, it is unusual for all the machines to be in use at the same time.

Andy Hives explains: “Continuous, full-capacity extraction would be wasteful; to maximise energy efficiency, our design included the installation of an Ecogate extraction-on-demand system which constantly monitors individual machine use. Ecogate dampers fitted in the main ducting automatically open or close as machines come on or offline, and fan speed is constantly adjusted to match the changing extraction requirements.” 

Fitting an Ecogate system can make significant energy savings and DCS conservatively predict that the reduction in electricity consumption at Distinction Doors will cover the cost of the Ecogate installation in less than 18 months.

“DCS’s outstanding customer service and technical knowhow have once again proved to be a winning combination,” concludes Andy Copeland. “From initial discussions with Andy Hives, right through to final commissioning, DCS provided a thorough, professional service.”

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