New use for firefighting tank – Niko White and the Principle Plastics production team in Port Elizabeth have devised a system to circulate water from the large water tank to cool their injection moulds

Principle chills out with new solution

PRINCIPLE Plastics in Port Elizabeth has come up with a novel cooling solution for its fleet of injection moulding machines – by circulating water from its firefighting water storage tanks via a Plate Heat Exchanger system, to keep the moulding machines oil at optimum temperatures.

The solution saves both water and energy costs.

Principle is running a range of mainly polyolefin materials to manufacture automotive components with the need to tightly control the moulding machines oil temperatures at around 43°C (+- 1°C) and opted to not use a standard solution (the original cooling towers used in plastic converting tended to lose considerable quantities of water to evaporation, amounting to around 400 litres per hour in peak summer conditions – this is now reduced to zero)

The Markman Industrial -based business had been obligated to install  two x 400 000-litre water tanks to meet firefighting requirements and the solution devised by Principle MD, Niko White, and the Principle team involved piping the water from the tank to a central pump and then circulating the water to the machines and back to the tanks.

In winter the temperature in the storage tanks could drop to around 6°C, while in summer it can get up to 30°C. As such, each machine is fitted with a self-regulating 24V valve that opens and closes automatically according to the requirements to maintain oil temps at the optimal 43°C.

White, who is closely involved in devising control technology for production on an on-going basis, believes the advantage of the system is that it makes logical use of the stored water, which would otherwise be a fixed cost only used in the event of fire.

“So, we are not using the water at all as it remains in a closed water tight system. We are merely using the ‘cold’ in the water to our advantage. The tanks cool down naturally over the weekends and are ready to go come Monday mornings for startup!