Specialist plastics manufacturer, Tatra Rotalac, is going through a significant transformation of its factory in Manchester that is pushing energy efficiency to its limits and creating jobs in the process.
Tatra Rotalac manufactures a wide range of goods from roller shutters to specialist plastic mouldings and extrusions.
It has been experiencing strong growth since the Manchester site was acquired by an AIM-listed plc in 2016 and the integration of its sister company Tatra Plastics Manufacturing.
As part of its transformation, production capacity has been transferred from a sister site in Halifax and warehouse space is being increased by 50 per cent.
The relocating and installing of new machinery has had a significant knock-on effect to the site’s energy demand, meaning that measures needed to be taken to increase energy efficiency wherever possible to stay within local network electricity capacity constraints.
By making the right investments, Tatra Rotalac aims to considerably reduce the energy intensity of its Manchester operations, enabling it to focus on plans to develop further products in a number of its key market sectors. In the process, its actions will also translate into cost savings on the bottom line and a lower carbon footprint.
To help manage this complex process and identify the most suitable measures, the company has been receiving support from Paul Cooper, capital projects specialist at the Business Growth Hub.
One of Tatra Rotalac’s first actions was to upgrade and replace its old air compressors with more efficient variable speed drive systems.
The company also urgently needed to double the lighting levels in the factory, which risked more energy load on the system, particularly given that the factory operates through the night.
To maximise efficiency, the company used the Hub’s Low Carbon Network to find a supplier of high efficiency LEDs that could match their needs.
Wigan-based Perfect Sense Energy was brought in to design a bespoke lighting system that has reduced annual energy costs by over £10,000, as well as creating a much better working environment for staff. The upgrade is projected to pay for itself in 18 months.
The next action on the company’s hit-list was to upgrade its warm air heating to a more efficient system, which will save a further £2,000 a year.
A number of additional measures are planned over the coming months.
Monitoring results so far show that the energy efficiency drive has restricted the growth in demand to within 75 per cent of existing electricity supply capacity. There is therefore no need to increase electricity supply, which would have cost the company at least £80,000.
Andrew Wall, managing director at Tatra Rotalac, said: “Thanks to Paul’s support we have a far greater understanding of our ability to meet increased production demands going forward. The support has also enabled us to overcome infrastructure barriers that prevented us from pushing forward with our plans to develop and bring to market new and innovative products.
“The subsequent increased capacity with potential for new products to be delivered has given us the confidence to recruit twelve full time staff, with more on the horizon.
“The support we’ve received has been integral to this success, and we look forward to continuing our work together on this ongoing transformation of our business.”
To find out more about the Hub’s support for Greater Manchester SMEs, or to read other success stories, click here.