As every warehouse manager knows, keeping large industrial buildings warm in winter is essential for staff welfare and to ensure equipment remains unaffected by the cold. But with the trend for the winter freeze to go on for long periods each year, keeping the heating on leads to significantly increased fuel bills. With energy suppliers hiking prices even further, now is a better time than ever to offset these costs by installing an intuitive Energy Management System (EMS) from Clarke Controls to manage gas blowers and reduce energy bills at a stroke.
Clarke Controls specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of pioneering heating controls to lower energy costs for businesses operating in energy intensive sectors such as warehouses.
A family run business operating nationally with several high profile clients, Clarke’s tailored energy management controls are designed and manufactured in the UK at their Oldham facility, giving total peace of mind for the customer.
With over 15 years’ industry knowledge and experience, you can trust the Clarke Controls team to lower your energy bills by a minimum of 25%, with a payback of under two years guaranteed. Depending on your previous energy consumption, the results can be even more substantial. In a recent award winning installation Clarke’s innovative technology has helped Jewsons builders’ merchants make average savings of 49% across 50 sites.
Furthermore, Clarke’s Web Control System enables you to control your systems from wherever you are.
But it doesn’t stop there. In 2014 Clarke Controls is complementing its existing controls for industrial gas or oil heating systems with the launch of a web-based Automatic Remote Meter Monitoring (ARMM) system to help businesses reduce their use of electricity by monitoring not only what is going into each distribution board but also what is going out so that informed management decisions can be made as to where electricity savings may be achieved.
Clarke Controls’ Managing Director Clive Bodenham spoke to Warehouse & Logistics News.
Warehouse & Logistics News – First of all, Clive, what does your role as MD involve day to day? Do you get personally involved in developing solutions for clients, and project managing them?
In a few cases, yes. Most installations are variations on a theme, but occasionally customers have had specific issues which have required ‘custom’ solutions. Because we design and produce our own product here in the UK, we have the ability to develop a bespoke solution to suit customer requirements. We really enjoy working with the customer to develop customised solutions where it is commercially viable.
WLN – What sets Clarke apart from their competitors?
We are a small, family-based business but as you will see from reading the case studies on our website, we have consistently attracted large-scale businesses to install our products. I think we have an advantage in that everything from design to manufacture and installation is carried out in house, giving us the flexibility to meet every client’s specific needs.
WLN – What kind of energy savings can your systems help clients achieve?
We offer a Minimum Savings Guarantee of 25% of the company’s previous annual gas consumption. As gas prices increase, obviously so do the savings.
WLN – You say 25% is the minimum saving you guarantee. What is the most you have ever saved a client?
The most we have ever saved was just over 80%! On the latest analysis, the average saving in our installations to date is 43%. We like to leave a generous ‘safety’ margin between the guaranteed saving and the savings we deliver to ensure that there is a ‘no quibble’ money back guarantee, in the event that we do not achieve our target. So far, in nearly 10 years, no one has asked for their money back!
WLN – How do potential customers find out what they could save?
We start with our Free Site Survey, which can be carried out at any time with no interruption to the business. From this we estimate the cost of the installation and calculate the ROI, or payback, by analysing their annual gas bills. The typical ROI or payback time is 12 to 18 months.
WLN – How do your heating control systems work?
The system is specifically designed to retrofit to gas or oil based heaters – warm air blowers, radiant tubes and so on – in large commercial buildings. It is zone-based, so different areas can be heated to different temperatures.
WLN – Do your gas systems replace thermostats?
They generally replace thermostats and time clocks, which are prone to inaccuracy, and/or other controls, which are subject to tampering. The system uses highly accurate and well positioned temperature sensors, and interfaces with external doors so the heating may be switched off if doors are left open for longer than a specified period.
WLN – Can you set the system to have time shifts?
Yes, you can. Each zone can be set to have up to four time shifts, each with an individual target temperature. During each shift period, the system maintains the target temperature level within 0.5 degrees Centigrade, with Optimum Start, Optimum Off and Frost Protection as standard. The system is retrofitted to existing gas heating systems, and enables users to control them more efficiently.
WLN – What does the Web Control System enable end users to do?
The Clarke Web Control System allows customers to monitor and control their heating systems remotely. Using the unique web-based control system, managers and authorised staff can alter or check on the heating system using any Internet connected device, including PCs, iPads and mobile phones.
Automatic alerts can be set up to advise relevant staff when, for instance, heating is not working, or not achieving required target temperatures, or working when they should be off. Actual and required temperatures are recorded and displayed graphically using an intuitive, easy to use interface.
WLN – Can you tell us about some of your clients?
A few larger clients that people might recognise would be Link 51, the racking and shelving manufacturer, Bibby Distribution, the logistics specialists, JD Williams, the clothing distributor, Wardle Storeys, the coated fabrics manufacturer and Smurfit Kappa, the packaging giants. We have also installed systems for numerous builders’ merchants including Wickes and Jewson and we are carrying out trials with UPS and Kuehne & Nagel. However we have hundreds of smaller, single site clients that are equally important to us.
WLN – Is there a ‘minimum size’ of business that you work with?
Absolutely not, as I mentioned earlier we have hundreds of very happy smaller clients. If a business is spending in excess of £10k per annum on their gas heating then we can normally help them.
WLN – What’s your biggest success story with a client?
In terms of scale it would have to be Jewson. Using our equipment they saved an average of 49% over 50 sites without reducing the level of employee comfort, which is obviously a huge cash saving. They are continuing to roll out the system over their estate. As a result they won a prestigious Sustainability award in 2013, which was fantastic.
WLN – What standards are your gas control products made to?
Our gas products are approved by the Carbon Trust, and we are proud to be an approved supplier on the Carbon Trust Technology List.
WLN – What are the most common abuses of heating systems?
Common scenarios include thermostats set to full up, timers completely wrong or not working, and heating left on out of working hours. But heating on when outside doors are open is by far the biggest waste of heating energy and therefore money.
WLN – What is the UK government doing to support companies adopting your systems?
There is Accelerated Tax Relief for businesses that purchase Clarke’s gas controls, as our products are on the Energy Technology List. The equipment benefits from Enhanced Capital Allowances, so the cost can be written off in one year, thereby reducing the actual cost.
WLN – How long does it take to install one of your gas control systems?
As every system is different, it’s usually between a few days and a few weeks.
WLN – Will installation disrupt the customer’s operation?
No. Our trained installation engineers work with and around customers so as not to disrupt normal daily workflow. Each system is tailored to the customer’s requirements in consultation with the customer to achieve the required zoning and comfort level.
WLN – Do people need to change their energy suppliers to have your gas control systems?
No, this isn’t another attempt to get you to change energy supplier! But of course, checking your tariff when your contract expires is good practice and common sense.
WLN – You mentioned an energy survey. Do you charge for this service?
No, we don’t. Clarke offers a free energy survey to all prospective customers, providing a full audit of their present heating energy consumption and giving energy saving solutions and recommendations to help customers lower their spend. Our trained surveyors do a full site survey to check on the level of heating control on each site. Most customers are (unpleasantly) surprised by the difference between how they think that the heating is being used and how it is actually (ab)used.
WLN – How does one arrange a Free Energy Survey with Clarke Controls?
Arranging a survey with us is easy. Simply call us on 0845 603 9369 or email me directly at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can fill out the short survey form on our website www.clarke-controls.co.uk
WLN – Your existing controls are attached to gas blowers, but you are also introducing a new product for electric energy systems. Can you tell us about it?
The electric system we are launching is quite different to the gas controls. It’s a web-based Automatic Remote Meter Monitoring (ARMM) system, monitoring electricity usage. Monitoring electricity meters is not new, but our system enables the customer to monitor both what is going into and out of a distribution board, so they can pinpoint where they are using most electricity.
WLN – What kind of savings do you anticipate that the new ARMM system will help clients make?
Trials so far of ARMM have enabled clients to make savings of up to 15% on their electricity consumption. When you consider that typically a business will spend 20 to 30 times as much on electricity as gas, that equates to an enormous cash saving.
WLN – Finally, where do you see Clarke Controls going from here?
There are a growing number of businesses contacting us wanting to lower their energy bills, and with the launch of ARMM there’s even more reason for businesses to take our Free Energy Survey. The customers we have already been working with have come up with ideas and applications that we never thought of, so it will be great to see how that develops. And of course, once customers can determine where they are wasting electricity as well as gas, they will require systems to control that wastage, and we look forward to the challenges that will bring.
Tel: 0845 603 9369