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WILVO Enables Growth with 30 Percent Energy Savings

This article is part of the series “Grid heroes – pioneering in solutions against grid congestion”.

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

This article is part of the series “Grid heroes – pioneering in solutions against grid congestion”.

Written by Brainport Eindhoven

WILVO, the leading metalworking company in Bergeijk, faced a major challenge; power shortage. In order to realize their strong growth ambition, the company had to look for smart solutions to deal with grid congestion within the contracted capacity. That is why the Brabant company fully focused on energy savings. Successfully. WILVO's approach and the results they achieved are a source of inspiration for other metal companies that face similar challenges. In this article, QHSE manager Davy Schiricke and COO Dennis Geerings of WILVO talk about the steps they took.

Energy consumption and sustainability measures

WILVO is a leading supplier of sheet metal, engineered metal components and systems and the largest company within the WILVO group. The company works intensively for customers in the high-tech industry. For example, WILVO is an important supplier to ASML and they also make technical parts for other sectors.

Energy consumption within the WILVO group has always been an important point of attention, especially with a view to cost savings and sustainability. . "The desire to become more sustainable started with the high energy prices. We wanted to save costs by reducing energy costs. We ultimately managed to reduce our energy consumption by thirty percent by applying smart techniques." explains Davy Schiricke.

A crucial part of this strategy was measuring energy consumption per machine and then implementing savings measures. “Our challenge was to stay within our contracted capacity by using energy smartly,” Schiricke continues. "We carried out the monitoring at WILVO in Bergeijk and subsequently rolled out the measures at our other branches."

Savings measures in detail

One of the striking findings was the idle consumption of machines. "We looked at where we were using unnecessary power," says Schiricke. "We discovered that some machines consume a lot of power without being active. Partly by replacing these machines with more energy-efficient variants, we have achieved significant energy savings in one year."

But the energy-saving measures at WILVO became even broader and more detailed: "Within sheet metal work, you can switch from an energy-inefficient CO2 laser machine to a fiber laser, which saves two-thirds of energy consumption," Schiricke explains. "We also replaced halogen lighting with LED, which saved sixty percent of the power consumption for lighting."

Investing to save money

WILVO has invested heavily in energy-efficient technologies to save costs in the long term. "We recouped the investment in LED lighting in a year and a half," says Schiricke. "Because we work in shifts, the lighting is often on sixteen hours a day, so the savings are quickly noticeable."

In addition to lighting, the air network was also examined. “We have engaged a supplier that rents sensors for measuring machines,” says Schiricke. "By controlling our air network we were able to reduce unnecessary air production and therefore power consumption."

Gas consumption and heat recovery

An interesting paradox within WILVO's sustainability measures is the influence of energy-efficient machines on gas consumption. “Our more energy-efficient machines emit less heat, which has increased our gas consumption,” says Schiricke. "Our sustainable buildings and air heat pump help with this, but it is a challenge to find this balance."

Solar panels and self-sufficiency

An important part of WILVO's sustainability strategy is energy self-sufficiency. "Our building on the Wilgenakker is equipped with solar panels and geothermal heat, and at the building on the Melkweg we use an advanced heat recovery system," says Geerings. "The GFM building is also equipped with solar panels. With a total of 2,300 solar panels, we generate no less than 575 MWh annually."

These investments in renewable energy sources are not only cost-saving, but also significantly reduce WILVO's ecological footprint.

Share knowledge

WILVO has placed great emphasis on collaboration between the various companies within the WILVO group to share knowledge and techniques. "WILVO is the largest entity within the whole," says Geerings. "It is sometimes more difficult for smaller companies to tackle sustainability processes, but by sharing our knowledge, we help each other move forward. This has led to concrete results."

Working together on an energy hub

One of the progressive initiatives that WILVO is involved in is the energy hub on the De Waterlaat business park. "Grid congestion is a social problem," Geerings explains. “Collaborating with other companies on the industrial estate can help balance and share power consumption.”

This collective, supported by the Kempische Ondernemersplatform and project manager Jan Rietdijk, is working on a solution for the physical and contractual challenges associated with energy management. "Such a construction could be interesting for grid operators such as Enexis," Schiricke adds. "By identifying actual consumption needs, we can respond specifically to supply and demand."

Challenges and legislation

While the benefits of the energy hub are clear, there are also challenges ahead. "We are of course also concerned with the legal side of the story," Geerings continues. "We can individually enter into a contract with Enexis, but as a group and as an industrial estate this is not yet possible. There is no legislation for this yet. The speed and way in which we can get things off the ground depends on this."

These legal restrictions emphasize the need for flexibility from grid operators and other parties involved. Once all components come together, significant improvements can be made quickly.

Realizing growth ambition

WILVO's sustainability journey shows how an innovative and conscious approach can lead to impressive results in energy management. By investing in technology, collaborating and supporting sustainable initiatives, WILVO not only reduced their energy consumption, but was even able to expand; “We have grown thirty percent per year since 2018. Thanks to the measures we took, we were able to significantly limit the usual electricity use. Despite this growth, we have even started using less electricity. You have to run your business like you run your household, then there is always something to save,” Geerings concludes cheerfully.

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