Gilberts are demonstrating by example how manufacturers can make better use of their buildings to improve their carbon footprint and optimise operating costs.
The company has just completed installation of its latest phase of onsite solar using its factory roofs to accommodate solar arrays. The latest addition will deliver a further 110kWp of home-generated electricity. It supplements photovoltaic panels already installed on site over the past decade and brings Gilberts’ total capacity up to 170kWp which equates to an annual electrical generation of almost 155,000kw. In addition a further two phases delivering an extra 139kWp are already in hand for completion this year. This will bring total onsite generation by solar to 294kWp
The solar arrays represent just part of Gilberts’ continuing investment in environmental and carbon reduction measures.
The company has upgraded the site’s factory roofs to 100mm composite, improving daylight, improving insulation and reducing heat loss. Fluorescent lighting across its 130,000 sq ft facility has been removed and replaced with LED with occupancy sensors. Heating is controlled by smart technology. Compressors and motors are now inverter controlled and machines fitted with load sensors, which automatically switch the equipment off when not used for a period of time.
Gilberts is also exploring the possibility of using any electricity it generates surplus to operational needs to run nitrogen generation equipment, thereby reducing- or eliminating- its need to buy in liquid nitrogen to run its laser technology, with all the associated transportation environmental impact and embodied carbon.
Explained Jonathan Haslam, Gilberts Managing Director, “The solar electricity we generate is already reducing our energy bills. As an example, a number of our production machines can operate throughout the summer working entirely from our solar panels; one building alone generates almost 30% of its annual electricity usage now- a figure which will be further improved as we continue the expansion programme.
“Obviously the driver behind this is to minimise our environmental impact through our own carbon footprint and in turn supporting our customers’ embodied carbon and TM65 rating. It does also help us to continue to deliver best value for our customers by mitigating our reliance on bought-in energy and therefore helping protect against rising costs. In light of the increase in energy costs- our bought in electricity is predicted to increase five fold-, the PV panels are a great, timely investment and could pay for themselves in as little as 18 months.”
The investment in solar is part of Gilberts’ continuing commitment to investment in technology to deliver cost-effective, quality components; the company has already in recent months bought state-of-the-art laser cutting and punch equipment, manufacturing programming software and powder coating line.