The professionally-equipped woodworking workshop at the Rycotewood Furniture Centre, at the City of Oxford College city centre campus, is a key resource for the many students of furniture design and making who attend both vocational and university level courses at the College. It was very important, therefore, when it was decided to upgrade the dust extraction system, that the work could be carried out, not only to a reasonable budget, but also quickly and with minimal disruption to the use of the workshop during term-time.
The requirement to update the existing dust extraction system had already been established, as it was underpowered to serve the twenty-three woodworking machines situated in the workshop, resulting in an excess of airborne dust in the room. In addition, when the extraction system was in operation the noise created disturbed teaching and other activities in adjacent rooms, even when the woodworking machines adjacent to those rooms were not being used.
The original intention of the College Estate department was to completely remove the existing dust extraction system and replace it with an entirely new system, including all the high level ducting, fans, filters, etc. and it was on this basis that several firms were invited to tender for the work.
However, when the specialists at Western Air Ducts examined the specification documents in detail, they came to the conclusion that the same improvement in dust extraction efficiency could be achieved by retrofitting their Inteliair™ system to the existing dust extraction installation – retaining all the existing extraction infrastructure, saving the client significant time and expense.
Briefly described, Inteliair™ is an intelligent air control system that reduces operating costs, lowers carbon footprint and improves air quality by optimising the efficiency of dust extraction, fume extraction and ventilation systems.
It does this through the automatic and continuous monitoring of demand, using local control units that detect when extraction is required. In the case of the Ryecotewood furniture workshop, an Inteliair™ damper control unit is fitted to the extract duct serving each of the woodworking machines. When a particular machine is switched on, the Inteliair™ system detects that fact and automatically opens a damper accessing the extraction system, regulates the main extraction fan speed accordingly and dust is extracted.
In the original system, and in competitors’ proposed replacement systems, when one machine was in use, the whole dust extraction to every machine was activated, wasting large amounts of energy. By using the Inteliair™ system, where extraction occurs only when and where required, the original, underpowered system, was enabled to provide all the extraction required, at a fraction of the capital cost and with potentially significant on-going energy savings.
A second, additional benefit to the College is the reduction in noise generated, not only within the workshop itself, which can be a pretty loud environment, but also in rooms located nearby. This is particularly true for teaching rooms adjacent to the workshop, which were quite severely impacted by noise from extraction to machines close to the boundary walls, even when the machines were not in fact being operated. Using the Inteliair™ system, extraction to those machines only occurs when they are in use, resulting in a greatly improved environment in surrounding areas.
A third, and perhaps critical advantage of Western Air Ducts retrofitted Inteliair solution, has been its very rapid installation. Because all the existing ductwork, extraction fans and filters remained in place, the work involved in making the upgrade was greatly reduced and could be timed to occur over the vacation period, with the result that students’ work was not disrupted.
Andy Appleby, Facilities Manager, City of Oxford College, explained; “The existing extraction system in the furniture workshop was really not “fit for purpose” and was not meeting our sustainability policy and procedures, particularly as regards energy usage. It was when we started to investigate installing a replacement system that we discovered Inteliair™, which we had not previously been aware of. When Western Air Ducts came and explained how Inteliair™ could transform our existing installation from its basic state into a fully automated extraction system – without the need to replace the existing ductwork (which was really relatively new) – we were convinced that this was the solution for us. The installation went extremely smoothly, the system is easy to use and the tuition and support from Western Air Ducts has been excellent – altogether we are really delighted with the results.”