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The Glass Wipe Board Company has secured more than £7,000 funding to support its purchase of a new Bohle Sedimentor.

Success is often built on specialism; the identification of an otherwise over-looked market, identifying its specific requirements and combining that with a commitment to be the best supplier to it. The Glass Wipe Board Company was set up by Aaron Dewhurst in 2010 with exactly this singular focus.

With a client list that includes, among a multitude of blue-chips, the BBC, Amazon, and Google, it has seen exponential growth in its market and its reputation, leading to the investment in a Bohle Sedimentor in the process.

“There were three key influences on our purchasing decision,” Aaron said. “The first was product quality.

“We manufacture our product using back-painted glass combined with a range of fixings – including hidden and magnetic fixings – and that’s it. It sounds straightforward but finish and product quality has to be exceptional. Edge quality is key, and that needs clean coolant.

“Secondly, there’s a cost attached to machinery downtime associated with replacement of coolant and machinery cleaning, which was also a factor.

“Thirdly, there’s a reputational issue: our customers also expect us to be doing everything we can to guarantee the sustainability of our processes as part of their supply chains.”

Cooling glass and machinery tools during manufacture and disposal of waste water remains a significant overhead for glass processors.

Clean cooling water increases the performance of machinery by up to 20% and the service life of tools by up to 30%, but it can all too easily become contaminated with particles from drilling, polishing and grinding.

The cost of keeping it clean can quickly add up. Modelling by Bohle reveals that using just 400 litres of water as part of your weekly cleaning cycle equates to a yearly water consumption of approximately 20,000 litres as well as high cost for its disposal.

This is governed by a raft of EU regulations and, in the UK, the Water Resources Act. The addition of coolant makes the disposal process even more complicated.

Irregular cleaning of water and machinery also carries a potentially far higher price tag in lost man hours, falling product quality, and reduced service life of equipment.

“The problem with contaminated coolant is that you don’t know you necessarily have a problem until ‘you know you have a problem’. You’ll spot a product on the line that isn’t quite right and then you’ll go back and see that the ones before weren’t really quite right either – and then you’re into remakes,” Aaron said.

“Edge quality is key for us, but we probably haven’t historically changed coolant and cleaned the machinery as frequently as we should have because we’re always busy and because of the associated downtime of doing it.”

Bohle argues that the introduction of a sedimentor to their line can support glass processors in increasing capacity, save £thousands lost to downtime, and extend the life of their machinery and tooling.

Trimming around 10% off these costs, it suggests sedimentors will pay back against purchase costs in as little as a year, while also improving product quality.

Bohle’s range of Sedimentors are suitable for a wide assortment of grinding, drilling and sawing glass equipment, using a sophisticated multi-stage process to remove contaminants from coolants and water.

First, water is pumped into a specially contoured settling tank allowing coarse, higher density glass particles to be separated from the coolant and settle to the bottom. Simple, low energy but highly effective, the filling process removes more than 70% of contaminants.

Then, fine particles are separated out in the flocculant dosing process. Aided by optimised dispensing of granulated flocculant and a controlled current flow, the system then captures and binds even the finest glass particles, which sink to the bottom of the Sedimentor in an automated cycle producing virtually clear process water. Any coolant products used with the water are retained.

At the end of the cleaning process, a timed valve at the floor of the tank opens and the accumulated sludge of glass finings and flocculant is flushed into a filter bag by the water pressure. This leaves the cleaned cooling water ready to be returned back into the cooling circuit.

A key feature of Bohle’s range is that it uses a ‘bypass system’ for batch cleansing. This isolates water, coolant and flocculant from the line during the cleaning process, completely eliminating the potential risk from flocculant contamination and tool damage.

“It’s the time benefit,” Aaron said. “When you’re stopping production to clean the machine you can easily lose half a day every other week or even every week if you’re doing higher volumes, and things don’t necessarily come up that clean.

“The sedimentor takes all of that away from us. We don’t really need to think about it.”

Bohle manufactures and supplies three different sedimentors: the 2.4, which has a filling quantity of 2,100 litres as chosen by The Glass Wipe Board Company; the 1.0, (1,000 litres); and the 0.3, which has a filling capacity of 320 litres. Its technical team, working closely with its customers to identify and model their requirement, also offer training and through-life support.

Manufacturing in the south east, The Glass Wipe Board Company was supported in its sedimentor purchase by the The Low Carbon Across the South East (LoCASE) programme.

This is financed through the European Regional Development Fund to provide a free business support programme in the south east plus grants for businesses of up to £20,000.

“I don’t think people understand the funding routes available to them,” Aaron said.

“LoCASE is our regional funding provider but similar providers exist right across the UK. The sedimentor reduces our water consumption and we have also invested in a new drying tunnel. You need to be able to demonstrate an economic and environmental benefit.

“For us, however, it goes far further. We’re getting increased efficiency and improved quality from our straight line edger. We’re also using that process to promote our business and our commitment to sustainable supply because our customers expect that from their suppliers.

“We’re perhaps slightly ahead of the curve because of the customer base that we have but I’m convinced that in the futur, you’re going to have to be able to demonstrate your commitment to sustainable manufacture as the starting point for supply.”