New boiler system reduces costs by thousands!
By George Harvey
Whelen Engineering was formed in 1952 with the idea that equipping aircraft with good beacons would make flying safer. From that point, Whelen expanded into all sorts of safety lighting and warning devices. Brian Boardman, the General Manager at Whelen’s Charlestown Division in New Hampshire, says of the company’s product lines, “We are proud to manufacture safety and warning devices that ship across the world.”
Whelen employs about 850 people at its Charlestown facility, making the company a major employer in the Connecticut River Valley area of Vermont and New Hampshire. Since the company tries to manufacture most of its own parts, there are many different kinds of processes in the plant’s two largest buildings. Injection-molding machines are important, but the company also makes circuit boards and other types of parts, which are used in the same plant to make such finished products as beacons, lightbars, and lighting systems.
The array of manufacturing processes produces its own set of unusual energy requirements. Equipment used in some areas produces enough heat that they heat the space they are in until outside temperatures go down to close to zero. Other areas, of course, have very different needs.
In their most recent building addition, they covered the exterior surfaces of concrete and block walls with thermal board to R-30. The ceiling insulation was also brought to R-30, with the insulation inside. The insulating boards were installed in layers of two-inch-thick boards, with both air intrusions and thermal bridges eliminated in the process.
They installed four large Frohling TX Model 150 Biomass Boilers, with a 4000 gallon buffer tank. Fuel infrastructure is adjacent to the boiler room, and both it and the boilers are adapted for use of either wood chips or pellets, providing better fuel source security. Existing oil boilers were retained as well, providing more backup, if needed. The whole heating system is tied to a new forced air water distribution system installed by Froling Energy, based in Peterborough, New Hampshire.
The wood storage capacity is 144 tons of pellets or 250 tons of dry wood chips. The annual fuel use should be about 450 of pellets or 562 tons of dry chips. This is expected to save 58,000 gallons of oil per year and reduce heating costs by $90,000 to $132,000.
The commitment to sustainability is reflected in other Whelen operations. There are two aspects of this that particularly deserve mention.
In an effort to conserve resources, Whelen has reduced waste for some operations to zero discharge. One example is a process which has all wastewater captured; all particulates in the water are removed. Whelen is then able to reclaim and recycle content from the particulates.
Another aspect of sustainability that this exemplary company incorporates into their standards is the relationship between the company and the employees. The company’s website says, “The pride and commitment of its work force, [whose] average employment longevity is 22 years, is rewarded by sharing the Company’s benefits as share holders in the tradition established by the founding Whelen’s fifty-six years ago.”