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Feasibility Report on VSI

(some information has been removed to maintain confidentiality)
The following are excerpts from:

A Feasibility Study into the Development of a Pilot Production Facility
for the Manufacture of Vacuum Super Insulation Panels

Company -Superline Ltd.(T/A EIS Manufacturing)

Written By: Dr A.J.Thomas B.Eng(Hons), M.Sc, D.Eng, C.Eng, MIEE. Senior Research Associate - Manufacturing Engineering Centre, Cardiff University




Chapter 15       Market Analysis

15.1 Introduction



A new company trading under the name of EIS Manufacturing has been formed for the purpose of manufacturing insulation systems to a worldwide client base.

EIS Manufacturing Director Mr Fred Best has designed and developed a Vacuum Super Insulation Panel (VSIP) using a new kind of panel 'edge' that has vastly superior insulating properties to other more conventional metal edged insulating panels (2 W/m.K length compared with over 9 W/m.K as being the best currently available at 200°C temperature difference). For example, at room temperature, a 10mm thick panel has the insulating properties of a 100mm thick expanded polystyrene block, indicating an overall k value of 3.6mW/mK,and the company sees this product as having massive sales potential on a worldwide scale.

The company sees opportunities to manufacture VSIPs in a range of sizes and shapes. Varying thicknesses of panel will allow for differing insulation properties. In effect, The EIS product line is designed for users requiring maximum performance and flexibility. It is designed to be used on high level industrial applications or as a general-purpose insulation panel for use in domestic environments.

The product has massive potential due to its unique design. High insulation values achieved through the use of a stainless steel structure allow the company not only to compete with other VSIPS in the domestic market but also provides a real opportunity to compete effectively with industrial applications. The industrial market could potentially benefit greatly since the product will achieve high insulation values whilst being relatively 'thin' and far more lightweight than conventional stainless steel VSIPs. The Stainless Steel structure will also allow the panel to work in environments reaching some 800°C with the potential to go higher as and when the technology develops. Integration of the VSIP with other systems currently under development at EIS (heat pipes, solar panels etc) will also increase potential of the product substantially.

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15.2 Product Analysis - Internal

Place

Industrial areas for promotion are identified as:

  • Building materials
  • White goods manufacturers (refrigeration, domestic ovens)
  • Boat building
  • Aircraft galley production
  • Industrial ovens and cooking equipment
  • Solar paneling and alternative / green energy systems
  • Refrigerated Transport
A range of heavy industrial applications including:
  • Small furnaces
  • Hot pipe insulation
  • Automotive heat (and sound) insulation

Technological

The VSIP has potential of significant developments in the energy technology area. Its integration with Solar panels make it an ideal product for providing a range of Eco-systems designed to advance the technological levels of green alternative energy saving devices. This unique product nature will provide massive sales potential since other VSIPs are unable to achieve the efficiencies and temeratures achieved by the EIS product.

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Legislative

No legislative changes are expected that will affect the product. A more likely scenario is that the panel will anticipate new eco-legislation and be at the forefront of any future developments especially where building thermal losses are to be reduced.

Economic

The VSIP market in the UK is currently growing but has not matured yet. Being at the cutting edge of this growth industry will allow EIS to anticipate growth in this area and to some extent help dictate growth. The predicted growth rate for the next two years is conservatively estimated as in excess of fifteen per cent. This does not however cater for the fact that EIS will be able to penetrate existing VSIP markets where again a conservative estimate of 20% market penetration will be envisaged over two years.

Competitive Analysis

EIS aims to conduct business on two levels. At one level the strategy will be to provide simple, efficient and cost effective products to a largely untapped market. This market will be in the alternative energy / green markets where no significant competition is seen. The integrated package of solar/ heat pipe/ VSIP systems allow unrivalled market potential in this area. It is envisaged that this market is however relatively slow to expand at present but has the potential to grow exponentially over the next five years providing suitable legislative and monetary injections are found.

At a second level, EIS will compete against other leading VSIP manufacturers such as ; Dow, Celotex, Reflex etc but again due to the unique design and the secondary factors the panel can bring to the market place (stiffness, strength, durability etc) it is envisaged that little competition will be present from these leading players. Appendix B shows the competitor analysis and product lines.

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A market survey was conducted into potential EIS VSIP usage. A small list of industrial companies was highlighted that included:
  1. Corus - Trostre (Steel coatings division - Energy department)
  2. Draka Wire Products (Maintenance and energy department)
  3. Calsonic Technology Centre Europe (Potential use of VSIPS on HVAC systems)Consort Engineering (Insulation on industrial oven product lines)
  4. Spencer Davies Engineering (Insulation on industrial oven product lines)
  5. BE Aerospace (Refrigeration on aircraft galley structures)
  6. Brockington and Scott (VSIP usage on Industrial bellows products)
  7. Daniels Fans (VSIP usage on Industrial bellows products)
  8. INA Bearings (Insulation of heat treatment furnaces)
  9. Morgan Marine (VSIP usage in portacabins and mobile buildings)
  10. Carmarthenshire NHS Trust (Energy usage reduction )
  11. MONO Baking Equipment (Oven liners and sidewalls)
  12. Wall Colmonoy Ltd (Heat treatment furnaces)
  13. INCO Alloys (Batch annealing plant)
All companies surveyed expressed interest in a new product line that provided greater insulative properties and thus lower energy consumption. The survey also identified that 72 per cent of the companies were unhappy with the relatively low operating temperature ranges offered by current VSIPs. Also 68% were not happy with the relatively complex nature of panel fitment and fixturing when joining panels together over large areas such as furnace walls etc. 22 percent of those questioned felt that although VSIPs were relatively inexpensive, maintenance costs were high and production suffered from long maintenance shutdown periods. Also, in Corus, Draka and INA, a selling factor was in being able to reduce the thickness of the insulative panels. Reducing panel thickness not only provided the potential for reducing maintenance turnround times but also provided more manufacturing capacity in the furnaces.

Interest was expressed by several of the companies in the ability of the panel to reduce energy consumption by reducing conductive and radiation losses and they were undertaking major energy consumption analyses and cost reduction programmes and see VSIPs are playing important roles in future energy cost-down programmes.

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Companies in all cases placed ease of use, reliability, ruggedness to cope with harsh environments, ability to provide a range of differing shapes and sizes of VSIPs, temperature capabilities and ease of maintenance / ease of handling above its price/performance ratio.

Competitor products were largely regarded by these customers as having too low a temperature range to be of use. Some companies stated that, VSIP's had not been considered since they had neither the insulative capabilities nor temperature ranges to cope with their current operating environments. A small minority however (5%) did express concern over the difficulty in handling large VSIPs.

15.5 Conclusions and recommendations

Savings in CO2 gas per year is highly dependent on the application of the VSIP and the quantities sold in each market area. Following extensive research no specific figures can be found that relate directly to the saving of CO2 gas in the application areas shown below. These are however guidelines for the types of saving that could be expected from these areas based on case studies. All figures provided are in Tonnes of CO2 saved per year on unit quantities of 100,000 panels sold:
  • Industrial Retrofitting 600 (over current insulation materials)
  • White Goods 1100
  • Industrial applications 2000
Please Note:
Data is underestimated in order to limit customer expectations at this stage.

Appendix A - Competitor Analysis

  • BARRIER Ultra-RT k values 32mW/mK Cost 75 per sqm
Notes: Friable and difficult to maintain form. Not a real competitor to the stainless VSIP unless used as a core material to the VSIP
  • Microtherm plate k Value 24 mW/mK Cost 65 per sqm
Notes: Tough and resilient plate. Stable under required temperatures and an ideal core material.
  • Aspen Aerogels k Value 12 mW/mK Cost 125 per sqm
Notes: Friable and difficult to maintain form. Not a real competitor to the stainless VSIP unless used as a core material to the VSIP
  • Heat Shield Insulation kValue 22mW/mK Cost 105 per sqm
Notes: Excellent high temperature panel. Stainless construction but limited to small sizes and specific applications only. Not a competitive product in panel form.
  • Reflectix* k Value 19mW/mK Cost 56 per sqm
Notes: Low temperature panel. Not a viable option.
  • Celotex* k Value 22mW/mK Cost 76 per sqm
Notes: Low temperature panel. Not a viable option.
  • Thyssen Krupp Panel k Value 65mW/mK Cost 150 per sqm
Notes: Excellent high temperature panel. Stainless construction but does not have the required thermal performance of the EIS VSIP
  • Microcal 1100 k Value 80mW/mK Cost 9 per sqm
Notes: Tough and resilient plate. Stable under required temperatures and an ideal core material.

* Indicates low temperature applications only < 150°C

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