At Loll, we’ve always been about reusing things – from designing and manufacturing products that are 100% recycled and 100% recyclable to maintaining a zero waste production facility. This is good, but we’re continually looking for ways to take our green ways to a new level.
One of our most recent ventures is reusing the heat we generate during the manufacturing process.
Loll’s heat recovery system
When we moved into our new building in September 2014, we re-evaluated the way we heat our building.
Heat is a natural byproduct of our manufacturing process, generated from two main sources:
- The CNC vacuum hold-down system (i.e., vacuums that hold down parts for the CNC cutting)
- The CNC dust collection system
Heat from the CNC machine vacuums and dust collection system is captured in our mechanical room.
This is an overview of the vacuum pumps and our air compressor, which supplies the entire building with compressed air.
The control unit on the right regulates where the hot air goes: in the shop (winter mode) or out the roof (summer mode). The control unit in the middle cleans the dust collector filters with a blast of compressed air. The box on the left is an electrical disconnect for one of the vacuum pumps.
This is the dust collection unit, which collects all the poly chips during cutting. The poly chips are then sent to a recycling center where they are reused.
Before, this heat was simply pumped outside. But, we got to thinking – why not reuse this ‘waste’ heat to heat our shop?
Enter our heat recovery system, which collects and reuses heat from our manufacturing process that would otherwise be lost.
Our mechanical room typically stays around 90 degrees, producing enough British thermal units (BTUs) to heat our entire production facility.
The shop could be up to 90 degrees if we want, but our production crew usually likes it at 65. Although we do have an external heating system, we’ve never had to turn it on.
Loll’s entire business model has been to make products with what most people see as waste. Reusing our ‘waste’ heat is just another way we demonstrate our mission and commitment to the environment.