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Gas and steam efficiency upgrades deliver robust returns

A family-owned private company with interests across Australia, Fletcher International Exports has the capacity to process 4.5 million head of sheep per year, and has grown to become one of the nation’s great agribusiness success stories.

For 30 years, Fletcher has operated a modern abattoir and rendering plant in Dubbo, New South Wales. The site is a large energy user, relying on high volumes of natural gas to produce steam for processing and hot water.

Fletcher has invested in energy efficiency measures for the plant in the past, however recent gas prices escalations highlighted a pressing need to further reduce site energy consumption.

At the same time, Fletcher’s managing director and founder, Roger Fletcher, was eager to take advantage of the New South Wales Government’s Gas Efficiency Program and Energy Savings Scheme. Run by the Office of Environment and Heritage, the scheme offers subsidies to offset the size of any energy-saving investments, and ultimately, improve returns.

Fletcher responded to the price increases by embarking on a program of energy upgrades across its Dubbo facility.

With project opportunities in the boiler house and steam system identified as the fastest path to cutting gas consumption, the company turned to Spirax Sarco to work with its on-site engineering team.
To complete the picture, Out Performers was engaged as an independent engineer to measure and verify the energy savings achieved, as well as help facilitate appropriate government funding.

“The growing pressure of rising gas prices has made businesses evaluate their gas consumption, and the government support programs, particularly in New South Wales but also across Australia, are increasingly the trigger for action,” said Spirax Sarco’s national sales manager, Craig McKnight. “Working closely with the team at Fletcher, we were able to identify a number of areas where we could save and reuse steam energy and therefore reduce gas consumption.”

Spirax Sarco’s proprietary heat-transfer technology proved critical to the creative technical solutions required to maximise cost savings to the business. Out Performers’ measurement and verification experience ensured transparency over the energy savings achieved and helped Fletcher take advantage of the government subsidies on offer.

“The recent energy savings projects undertaken with Spirax Sarco and my own engineering team have returned an excellent improvement in our efficiencies and a large reduction in our gas usage,” said Fletcher. “The New South Wales government support programs provided the catalyst we needed to make the significant investments back into our business to improve energy efficiency. We want Fletcher International Export to continue to grow and expand for the benefit of the business, the people and the future of the central west.”

McKnight said that while Fletcher’s results were outstanding both in terms of gas savings and the associated government subsidies secured, they’re not unique across the process industry.

“There are many opportunities, some repeatable, in abattoirs and rendering plants and process industry in general, where gas consumption can be reduced,” said McKnight.

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