When the existing compressor system at Manchester-based brick-maker Wienerberger Ltd became unreliable the company faced a stark choice. Should it carry out costly motor rewinds or replace the compressors?
Specialist supplier of compressed air solutions, Atlas Copco were contacted, and they set up a week-long iiTrak data-logging procedure to determine the energy usage of the existing plant, the air demand requirements and the system’s capabilities in order to establish a flow profile.
The results demonstrated a clear opportunity to make significant energy savings, reduce the company’s carbon footprint and introduce a new level of reliability and performance.
Replacing the system
Atlas Copco recommended a complete replacement compressed air installation comprising of an Atlas Copco GA90VSD+FF rotary screw compressor, a fixed-speed GA 75+ machine together with an FX15 refrigerant dryer, a 3,000-litre air receiver with electronic zero-loss drain, plus ancillaries including an OSC oil/water separator, all connected by an Optimizer 4.0 central controller.
To minimise pressure drops in the air network, the existing 4-inch galvanised pipework was to be replaced with an Atlas Copco AirNet 80mm modular aluminium system, installed by Pennine Pneumatic Services.
The estimated energy saving from the first two phases is in the region of £38,000 per year. By replacing the old equipment, we avoided the cost of overhauls, which would have amounted to at least another £30,000.
Miles Coppinger, director of production north, Weinerbrger
The net result of this major makeover – which also included a new vacuum system and, as a third and final phase, featured winter/summer ducting to aid heat recovery and direct hot air into the factory during colder months via manual vent switching – is substantial.
“The estimated energy saving from the first two phases is in the region of £38,000 per year. By replacing the old equipment, we avoided the cost of overhauls, which would have amounted to at least another £30,000. Naturally, I will keep a sharp eye on continuing performance and will be establishing data from sensors both in terms of kW/hr/m3 air power costs, but also as power related to the total volume of product output for any given period,” said Miles Coppinger, director of production north, Weinerberger.
One of the oldest breweries in the world, the German-based Einbecker Brewery, is another company that decided to invest in a new compressed air system – getting rid of a 20-year-old predecessor which consisted of four oil-free, fixed speed compressors.
With only limited on-site space available, the Einbecker Brewery required a compact new solution that could provide reliable and energy-efficient compressed air, while also meeting the stringent air quality requirements demanded by the site’s operations.
“Given the nature of our business, we absolutely cannot compromise when it comes to air quality and purity. In addition, brewing is an energy-intensive process. We needed a new compressed air solution to deliver improved operational efficiencies, to help reduce our energy costs, that could be accommodated in the fairly tight installation space that was available onsite,” said Christoph Benseler, technical manager, Einbecker Brewery.
In order to meet these demands, CompAir supplied two new 110kW Ultima compressors. Ultima is an oil-free system, featuring a design that helps drive energy efficiency without compromising on air quality.
David Bruchof, product manager – industrial compressors EMEA, CompAir explained: “Ultima features two highly efficient, permanent magnetic motors that replace the traditional gearbox set-up. These variable-speed motors can achieve speeds of up to 22,000 RPM and efficiencies greater than IE4.
“Traditional models rely on a gearbox which creates friction and results in efficiency losses, while also requiring high volumes of oil to lubricate the gears. In contrast, Ultima’s motors directly drive the airend without the need for a gearbox, continuously monitoring and adjusting the speed of each airend. This ensures maximum efficiency and pressure ratios at all times.”
Due to these improved efficiency levels only two Ultima units were required to meet the Einbecker Brewery’s energy demands, in place of the four compressors that were previously installed.
The compact size of the Ultima was another key selling point for the Einbecker Brewery. The machine’s footprint is 37% smaller than a conventional two-stage compressor. As a result, the two new compressors were able to easily fit into the available installation space.
For companies that don’t require a replacement compressor system but still need reliability and efficiency – identifying and then fixing any air leaks – often a significant source of lost energy and compressor output, is vital.
Carrying out a regular air leak audit could save thousands and was the route taken by Banbury-based global automotive supplier Magna Exterior Systems when the company invested in Brammer Buck and Hickman’s compressed air system audit.
Magna’s system was analysed using state-of-the-art ultrasonic technology and a detailed photographic report on any leakage found in the system, showing the location, size and cost of each leak, was provided. The company’s maintenance crew then took over to address the leaks, using the report as a road map.
“Our technicians went around the plant using these reports and signed off each as they completed the work. What’s more, we did the same six months later – and every six months from then – and audited the results so we have proof of the success of this approach. It has really improved our energy efficiency,” said Paul Howard, energy improvement co-ordinator, Magna Exterior Systems.
As Industry 4.0 drives the need for users to share and analyse asset data, demand for intelligent insights into compressed air performance in order to remove risks, improve productivity and reduce energy consumption increases.
Gardner Denver’s smart IoT analytics system, iConn, is now available as a subscription streaming service that enables plant operators and equipment providers to stay fully in control of all their compressed air processes – 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The iConn HD upgrade pushes critical information about the operating parameters of any Gardner Denver compressor, such as temperature, pressure and running time, to a web-based dashboard every minute, allowing for real-time monitoring and predictive analysis on mobile devices.
Alarms and warnings reduce the risk of downtime, while remote sites can be easily monitored and compressor performance optimised, with machine parameters and trend analysis over time made possible thanks to storage of data. All this can provide tangible benefits to a business’s bottom line.