AIM Composites

AIM Composites has installed a Babcock Wanson Thermal Fluid System into its facility in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire to heat and control the cooling of its new press producing lightweight panels and mouldings for the transport sector.


Thermal Fluid Heating & Cooling System for Composite Manufacturer

AIM Composites has installed a Babcock Wanson Thermal Fluid System into its facility in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire to heat and control the cooling of its new press producing lightweight panels and mouldings for the transport sector.

AIM uses the latest advanced composite materials for optimum weight saving and structural performance. Its products are used across the transport market, with the main focus in the aviation sector. In order to produce larger components with repeatable high quality for this market, AIM Composites made the decision to install a new, larger press.

The existing presses at the site were steam fed and water cooled but the company found the system to lack the precise controllability and flexibility it required. Based on extensive experience in this field, specialist process heating company Babcock Wanson advised the use of a Thermal Fluid Heating system instead.

TPC1500B Thermal Fluid Heater

A Babcock Wanson TPC1500B Thermal Fluid Heater was chosen to provide the heating, coupled to a purpose designed control loop to cool the system against a pre determined profile. A single fluid is used throughout the system for ease of operation and maximum efficiency.

Control of the complete heat / cool cycle is achieved using a bespoke Temperature Control Unit and dedicated software, also designed and installed by Babcock Wanson. The unique menu driven software allows for up 50 heating/cooling profiles to be uploaded and stored in its memory, with each profile offering up to six temperature ramp and dwell stages. A simple menu driven selection then allows the process to run completely automatically. Not only does this provide AIM Composites with exceptional flexibility but the minimal need for operator involvement allows for greater speed and repeatability of the process. All data is stored in the controller for download and review as required thereby also providing an accurate and simple record of the heat treatment process – a useful tool to help AIM Composites meet its customer requirements.


Client Reaction

David Drewry, Technical Director for AIM Composites, is very pleased with the results: “Converting to thermal fluid heating and cooling has resulted in a reduction in process cycle time by up to 30%. This significant improvement in efficiency is obviously a key benefit to us. Other benefits include reduced maintenance costs, reduced energy costs (replacing three steam boilers by one thermal heater) and an increase in available floor area (removal of the boiler house and old cooling system).

“We have not worked with Babcock and Wanson before but I have found the service provided to be of a very high standard.”

The TPC1500B Thermal Fluid System not only heats and cools the current presses at AIM, but also has the capacity to support a second press, should future production rates demand.

The TPC Series of Thermal Fluid Heaters are fully automatic coil type, multi-pass thermal fluid heaters complete with integrated burner, control system and safety devices. They provide optimal distribution of the heat exchange, high fluid velocity and specialist flow control for long fluid life and the highest safety; all this coupled to very low emissions and low running costs.

Customer Testimonials

Loucas Antoniou, Engineering Manager at Bakkavor Meals London

“The Thermal Oxidiser is the most efficient way of removing any smells and it’s also very straightforward to use.  We have been a customer of Babcock Wanson for many years and have always enjoyed a good service.”

Carbon Trust Annual Report 2009/10

“A major carbon footprint reduction will be achieved when the scheme currently in progress to change the main boiler fuel from heating oil to gas is completed in summer 2010. This £900k project will reduce our carbon emissions via energy usage by around 15% by removing the need to use heavy fuel oil, as the new boiler plant will use natural gas as its main fuel source.”

Webster & Horsfall

“What we hadn’t expected initially though is the level of control the new system provides us with; it’s amazing. It alerts us to any potential issues, is easy to maintain (no annual statutory inspection is required) and is quick to respond. All that and it doesn’t take up much room.”

Peter Connolly, Production Engineer at Vacu-Lug

“The ESM 2000 installation, together with an ongoing programme of process plant lagging and steam trap maintenance, has enabled us to significantly reduce our gas usage and cushion the company against rising gas prices.”

Dave Scrivens, Facilities Manager at Plastic Omnium

“Babcock Wanson’s expertise and ability to provide a whole package made them the leading contender for this project. On further investigation, their proposal was also commercially viable, which sealed the deal.”

Denis Kelly, Engineering & Construction Manager at Stolthaven Dagenham

“The Thermal Fluid Heaters themselves were ideal for this project as they are based on mature technology and are well proven in the field. They are robust and also require very little maintenance.”

Ian McQuarrie, Engineering Manager at Puredrive

“During my three years here, the Steam Generators and Thermal Fluid Heaters have worked flawlessly. Babcock Wanson carries a good name in the business for both quality and equipment longevity. Their knowledge, company wide, is exceptional and the whole package from installation through to service is managed professionally.”

Jason Hall, J&A Young Engineering Manager

“We had estimated our steam requirements, but Babcock Wanson had the experience to understand that we had underestimated this. In fact, the erratic nature of the steam loads would have been impossible to meet under our existing spec. Babcock Wanson was able to identify this as well as provide a very energy efficient solution with a number of enhanced features”.

Lee Bullen, Corrugated Services Manager at Board24

“It’s running very well, both easy to use and efficient. The service from Babcock Wanson has also been very good.”

Peter Shrimpton, Engineering Projects Manager at Bridgnorth Aluminium Ltd

"We were unfamiliar with Babcock Wanson, but we’ve had no problems with it whatsoever; you simply switch it on and it works – simple as that! The service we have received from Babcock Wanson has also been great.”

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