Friday, February 7th, 2014 - Optimal Group (Australia) P/L

Available for immediate release 07 February 2014

Optimal Group Australia Pty Ltd has recently commissioned 465 kW of on-site

power generation for Hardchrome Engineering in Clayton Victoria, industry leaders in surface technology and heat treatment. In response to increasingly tough economic conditions, rising power prices and a desire to reduce their environmental footprint, Hardchrome’s Managing Director Andrew Dugan looked to find an innovative power supply solution to maintain competitive advantage.

The manufacturing industry in Australia has come under increasing pressure in the past few years. In response, leading companies are reviewing their energy supply requirements to reduce costs and gain competitive advantage. Hardchrome Engineering, an industry leader in surface technology and heat treatment, have already risen to the challenge by installing 465 kW of Capstone Microturbines, an innovative cogeneration solution that uses jet engine technology to deliver a cleaner, quieter and demand responsive power supply.

Recognising exponential rise in power prices threatened their viability in an increasingly international and competitive market, Andrew Dugan, Hardchrome Engineering Managing Director took immediate action. “As a business, we’ve grown from humble beginnings to be a market leader. Key to this growth has been maintaining competitiveness, through continuous improvement and investing in both our people and technology.”

Whereas some businesses have the luxury to reduce their power consumption to save on energy, power is integral to Hardchrome’s industrial processes and ultimately, product delivery. “We needed to look for innovative options to reduce our exposure to rapidly rising power costs, without reducing our access to reliable power,” Mr. Dugan said. He added, "Importantly, we also wanted to reduce our environmental footprint. We knew that any solution we selected should reduce our emissions, as this is important to Hardchrome, our customers and the wider community.”

Finding the right solution

Hardchrome Engineering worked with their energy consultant to identify some of the key factors that were critical in selecting the right solution. Mr. Dugan stressed, “Demand charges were responsible for a large portion of our energy bill, so cutting this was a key focus for us. Essentially, we needed to ensure that any initiative would be available to reduce this demand, but it had to be reliable. We also wanted it to offer some redundancy, as any failure would potentially result in no demand savings at all”.

Situated in the outer suburbs of Melbourne, Hardchrome’s exposure to power interruptions from the grid have, admittedly, been minimal. But with an integral reliance on power for production, when outages have occurred they’ve had a significant impact on operations. “We knew we wanted the solution to improve our access to reliable power,” Mr. Dugan said.

An additional requirement was to minimise noise and vibration. Hardchrome’s industrial facility is surrounded by offices and commercial buildings. Limited by space available within the building, the only option was to install outdoors. This immediately removed most cogeneration solutions from the list of option available, as they’re traditionally much louder.

Andrew Dugan admits that initially, cogeneration wasn’t even considered a viable solution. “We reviewed a number of projects, and the common factor for cogeneration to work seemed to be the need for a large amount of heat, which we don’t require when compared to our power use. On top of that, Hardchrome’s energy use is not constant, so a traditional cogeneration system would be very hard to match to our facility” he said.

Perhaps above all other considerations, Hardchrome wanted to avoid potential pitfalls they saw in proceeding with on-site power generation. “We wanted something almost as simple as paying our electricity bill, without the sting” remarked Mr. Dugan. “We’re not in the business of running a power station. We needed to ensure the solution was a completely managed system – we wanted someone to ensure it was doing what we needed it to do. We also wanted to avoid the very real potential of a costly breakdown in five or six years-time that we weren’t prepared for.”

Cleaner, quieter and demand responsive

Hardchrome’s specific needs and site constraints resulted in an innovate solution for the manufacturing industry. A system tailored to Hardchrome’s energy usage was designed by Optimal Group to achieve multiple key outcomes identified as “must haves” by the client. Key to meeting these targets was the unique capabilities of the turbine technology used in the project.

Using Hardchrome’s existing power gas meter data, Optimal’s engineers discovered that a combination of Microturbines providing 465 kW of electricity would deliver the best returns to Hardchrome. This was completed using two C200 (200kW) Capstone microturbines, combined with a single C65 (65 kW) combined heat and power microturbine.

Having worked with some of the largest Aerospace companies in the world, Hardchrome were no stranger to the jet engine technology the Capstone Microturbine uses. With only one moving part, and no reliance on oil, the turbine is both quiet and vibration free. This enabled outdoor installation without any impact on Hardchrome’s neighbours.

Kane Ravenscroft, Optimal Group’s Sales Director elaborated on the solution’s suitability, “Capstone Microturbine’s offer outstanding flexibility for the manufacturing industry because they have no minimum power load. Meaning they can rapidly increase and decrease the power supply based on demand. Traditional cogeneration solutions struggle to deliver this.” Mr. Ravenscroft added, “Because the Capstone Microturbine doesn’t require any oils or coolants it means the system is very low maintenance. Our engineers have complete visibility over its performance via our back to base remote monitoring system, so any issues can be managed immediately, should they arise.”

Above all, the solution is delivering the savings and the reliability that Hardchrome needs to maintain it’s competitive advantage in its industry. "Even though the system size is less than half of Hardchrome’s peak power draw, and we are only recovering the heat from the single C65 turbine, the savings are even better than you'd expect,” Mr. Ravenscroft explains. “Inherent features of the turbine and overall design, including high part load efficiency and having multiple turbines to guarantee redundancy, have meant that we can run more often – even during times of low power demand from the factory."

The specified ‘dual mode’ configured Capstone system, provides peace of mind to Hardchrome’s operations, ensuring that there is ample power to run critical parts of their manufacturing processes in the event of a grid power interruption. When the system senses a loss of power from the grid, within seconds the turbines switch as backup power, supplying their full output to an ‘essential services’ board.

A powerful result for the manufacturing industry

Optimal Group have designed a system to put Andrew Dugan and his team back in control of their energy. To achieve such a large reduction in emissions and meet Hardchrome’s economic and power security goals is a success story for Australian manufacturing.

System facts

  • 400kW of open cycle power - permanent peak & standby demand response.
  • additional 65kW of continuous power with 120kW of thermal energy
  • rapid turndown capability of 465 to 0kW
  • dual mode 'backup' capable
  • advanced power server control system
  • CO2 reduction equivalent to 543 cars off the road annually
  • exceeds toughest environmental standards - less than 1/10th NOx emitted than equivalent engine
  • nine year fully comprehensive factory protection plan


Hardchrome Engineering

With a large scale facility in Melbourne, Australia, Hardchrome Engineering services a broad range of industry sectors and clients. As one of Australia’s largest industrial surface technology and heat treatment specialists they specialise in providing customised solutions from small machine components to large mill rolls for the steel and aluminum industries. A highly skilled work force including fully qualified metallurgists and chemical engineers ensures high product quality and fast turnarounds.

Optimal Group Pty Ltd

Optimal Group is an Australian company delivering energy solutions to a range of industries. With a team of engineers boasting over 100 years combined experience in energy applications and tailored solutions to the oil & gas, manufacturing and services industries Optimal Group supply complete on site power generation solutions to our customers that are cleaner, cheaper and more reliable. Optimal Group Pty Ltd is the Australian distributor of Capstone MicroturbinesTM.

For more information contact:

Kane Ravenscroft, Sales Director

m: 0400 100 041

w: 03 9545 1077

[email protected]

High resolution images available on request

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Contact Profile

Optimal Group (Australia) P/L

Optimal Group are a leading provider of innovative low carbon onsite power, cogeneration and trigeneration solutions. Optimal is the Australian and New Zealand distributers for Capstone Microturbines, the leaders in low maintenance, clean and green energy generation. 

We provide full tunkey solutions for clients looking to cut their cost of energy, improve their power security, access to power and reduce their carbon emissions. 

Kane Ravenscroft
P: +61 3 9545 1077
M: +61 400 100 041


electricity manufacturing cogen cogeneration microturbine Capstone turbine carbon emissions demand charges energy



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