If you’ve ever sat on a plane during a spot of turbulence and wondered whether you’ll make it home safely, then it might be reassuring to know there are people like George Lush, Managing Director of Lush Heat Treatment, whose job it is to make sure key components are flight-hardened in the heat of his furnaces – and he’s pretty hot on getting things right first time, every time.
“We’re obsessive,” says George. “We have to be. Attention to detail is everything. Doing things carelessly has no upside. The consequential loss of failure is far higher. If you think health and safety is expensive, try having an accident.”
Established in 1952 by George’s father, Lush Heat Treatment is in the business of vacuum heat processing, primarily for the aerospace industry. They heat aircraft engine and space vehicle components to furious temperatures before quenching them off in a high-tech process. The result of this is the kind of strength needed for extreme operating parameters, such as at 30,000 feet, or in space.
This high stakes stuff uses a lot of energy. “There’s not a whole lot we can do about that because our business is putting energy into material - maintaining heat for a certain amount of time. It is what it is.”
But George was keen to dig out energy efficiencies. “Our cooling system pumps were the big opportunity.” Just like in a car, the pumps are pumping water-based coolant around the system, but with the old system they couldn’t regulate the pressure. “They had no flexibility. They run at 100% all of the time and, around the clock, that mounts up. We needed to move to something more intelligent, more efficient."
George started talking to Low Carbon Workspaces, who ran the numbers and identified that this project had the potential for big carbon and financial payoffs. Flow sensors and energy meters were set up throughout the installation. It was calculated that with the latest digital pumping equipment, Lush could cut their energy consumption by 40-50%. This proved a low estimate. “After 13 weeks, we’re down 77.4%. That’s huge. We’re saving 46,975 kilowatt hours per year; 12 tonnes of CO2e – I’m told that’s equivalent to two Orcas.”
“It’s going to pay off markedly sooner than was envisaged. I expected a good ROI rate, and it will definitely beat that.”
The whole process now runs smoother and the new system will also enjoy longer service intervals, as it can operate at lower speeds to achieve the same benefits, saving a lot of money over time.
How did George find working with Low Carbon Workspaces? “They were really helpful because we’d never applied for a grant for anything before. They helped us with all the stages. I was expecting it to be more complex, but it was all really simple.“
George has now got the energy efficiency bug. “Wherever there’s an opportunity to drive down waste and drive down cost, just do it - it’s better for the company, it’s better environmentally. There’s really no downside.”