The Journal of Industry and Technology

Industrial Analytical Instrumentation

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Compressor engineering

Atlas Copco VSD compressor saves energy, running
time and space for Yorkshire-based precision engineers

When Calderdale Engineering Services (CES) moved from their premises in Pellon, Halifax to a new base in Boothtown, they chose to replace their existing 15-year old fixed-speed compressor with an Atlas Copco VSD installation, supplied by Pennine Pneumatic Services, that has since reduced energy costs by 50%, running time by 80% and occupies a substantially smaller workshop footprint.

A family owned and run company specialising in precision engineering, CES offers traditional manual turning, milling, boring and machining capability as well as fabrication and engineering services, from one-off welded assemblies to batch component manufacturing.

The move prompted a review of the operational efficiency of the existing compressor installation that has required continuous running in order to supply air for workshop assembly tools, instrumentation and blow-down cleaning procedures. The conclusion was that it was no longer fit for purpose and should be replaced with a new compressor system and AIRnet® pipework within the company's new premises.

As a long-term customer of Atlas Copco Compressors' premier distributor, Pennine Pneumatic Services (PPS) - also based in Halifax, CES called on their expertise to recommend the optimum unit for the company's specific needs. As a result, a new Atlas Copco GA11VSD+ rotary screw compressor was supplied and installed to provide greater efficiency and help make substantial energy savings.

Ian Harrison, Director at PPS, commented: "We have a mutually beneficial and long-standing relationship with CES going back 15 years and we were glad to be able to assist with this upgrade. Our priority is introducing energy-saving initiatives that also save our customers money and we look forward to continuing to work closely with CES in the future."

In contrast to the old, continuous running, fixed-speed compressor, the GA compressor's variable speed drive matches compressed air supply to demand thereby reducing run time and corresponding energy costs by as much as 50%. When combined with the compressor's innovative, in-house designed iPM permanent magnet motor, this results in an average 37% reduction in lifecycle costs compared to that of a conventional fixed-speed compressor.

As an additional point of use benefit, instead of the conventional horizontal design, the GA machine has an upright, vertical, low footprint layout designed to save floor and work space while improving maintenance access - and thanks to the silent motor and fully-enclosed drive train, the compressor runs as quietly as 62dB(A),

A further cost-saving feature is the system's air ring main, constructed from Atlas Copco's AIRnet modular air piping system. Readily adaptable, it is made from robust, lightweight, powder-coated aluminium tube and designed for easy, low-cost installation with a large selection of engineered polymer fittings. AIRnet's low friction, seamless pipework is corrosion free and thus minimises pressure drop in the system and contributes to energy efficiency.

According to Chris Pateman, CES Technical Director
: "The new compressor is a considerable improvement over our previous system due to the reduction of worksite noise levels and its more advanced design that provides significant efficiency savings."

CES company owner, John Pateman, commenting on the system's performance said: "We have been logging the number of running hours on the new machine since our move in. For comparison, when we reached a figure of 300 hours, we estimated that the equivalent running time on our old system, which operated constantly during working hours, would have been in excess of 1,600 hours for the same period - and would have been less efficient in its operation. The new system includes useful features such as weekly runtime scheduling for normal working hours together with a useful one-button manual override, and the system comes up to pressure within minutes from standby."

Atlas Copco Compressors in profile
Atlas Copco Compressors is the GB sales and service operation of the Atlas Copco Group providing oil-free and oil-injected stationary air compressors,  gas and process compressors, turbo expanders, nitrogen generators, air treatment equipment (such as compressed air dryers, coolers, and filters) air management systems, and custom designed engineered packages. 

Atlas Copco Compressors' sales and distribution network means that specialist compressed air advice and service is always within easy reach. A team of over 80 service engineers operates across the country, to ensure maximum running efficiency and minimum downtime at its customers' sites.

In the United Kingdom, Atlas Copco also handles the sales and marketing of construction and mining equipment, portable compressors and electric power generators, industrial power tools and assembly systems - all backed up by a nationwide sales, distribution, service and maintenance network. 

Atlas Copco is an industrial group with world-leading positions in compressors, expanders and air treatment systems, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. With innovative products and services, Atlas Copco delivers solutions for sustainable productivity. The company was founded in 1873, is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and has a global reach spanning more than 170 countries. In 2012, Atlas Copco had 39 800 employees and revenues of BSEK 90.5 (BEUR 10.5).

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