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Efficiencies and energy savings: Why our cleanroom reorganisation is good news for sustainability

Xaar’s Global Operations Director, Mark Brind, explains why our cleanroom shutdown is good news for sustainability.

Mark, you’re over-seeing a major overhaul and reorganisation of our cleanrooms at our Huntingdon site. What’s the scope of the project?

The start of 2023 has been a very busy time for my team. In late 2022, we finalised the plans for the complete shutdown of our cleanroom areas at Huntingdon Print Head Business Unit (PHBU). It is a major undertaking and months of careful planning have led us to this point.

The scope of the project is to undertake a complete reorganisation of our cleanroom space to help us operate on a more efficient footprint - which has major operational and energy efficiency advantages.

We also plan to use this time efficiently to overhaul other building services functions that are due for an upgrade. This includes a brand-new LED lighting system.

Why do this now - what is the project’s objective?

There are three things we want to achieve from this project. The first - and perhaps most pressing - is to achieve major energy savings by reorganising the space. Maintaining the temperature and air handling in these cleanroom areas is extremely energy intensive (in fact, it accounts for about 90% of our overall PHBU electricity consumption). By reorganising the space from four cleanroom-controlled areas to three - and separating off part of our footprint - we expect to make significant energy savings.

Like all businesses, we have seen electricity prices soar over the last year and it’s vital that do all we can to reduce our electricity base-load. So, we have decided to go even further to reduce our consumption levels by installing an LED lighting system and associated control equipment.

Secondly, we want to make our cleanroom more ‘space efficient’. By reorganising this area, and bringing the equipment closer together, we can reduce our footprint. In doing so, we will create spare empty space that can be used as-and-when we need to increase production volumes. 

Thirdly, this extra area can be separated off when not in use. This will be useful when we need a ‘fall back’ solution if faults occur or maintenance is required on our main cleanroom lines.

Is this an opportunity to invest in new machinery and equipment too?

Yes, absolutely.  Shutting down our cleanrooms is a big operation - so we need to take full advantage of this opportunity. We are currently investing in new machinery that will help to increase our production capacity as demand grows for our new Aquinox water-based technology. 

In what ways does this project help Xaar to meet its sustainability ambitions and goals?

This project has major outcomes from an energy perspective. By reorganising the footprint and upgrading the outdated and inefficient fluorescent lights to modern LED, we can save around 40% of energy consumption at Huntingdon - which contributes to 35.5% at a Group level.

What’s more, we’re installing smart meters too. This will give us a real-time picture of electricity consumption and enable us to spot areas of energy wastage too. With more accurate data, we can also be more efficient about how - and when - we use energy. 

How long is the cleanroom shutdown project expected to last?

We started this project on 17th December and we expect to have everything up-and-going and operational by the end of February 2023.

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