Make the right compressed air investment


Making the right choices when investing in or upgrading industrial compressed air systems can offer significant financial and environmental benefits, as ALUP explains.

In the manufacturing, engineering and production industries, compressed air is now firmly established as the fourth utility but is often overlooked when capital investments are being considered. It forms a key part of commercial infrastructure and as such, the need for continual improvements in efficiency, whilst reducing energy consumption, are key drivers for compressor development. With manufacturers under pressure to reduce carbon emissions from compressed air generation, a leading industrial compressor brand, ALUP, is at the forefront of technical innovation to support customers as the transition towards sustainable production rapidly gathers pace.

As an industrial utility, compressed air is often low on the agenda for manufacturers, whose main focus is on ensuring production is as efficient and profitable as possible. However, when the time comes to replace, upgrade or expand an existing compressed air system, manufacturers are presented with the chance to significantly reduce life cycle costs (LCC) and total cost of ownership (TCO) by selecting the most appropriate compressor technology to meet their current and future demands.

Mark Keen, Business Line Manager at MultiAir UK & Ireland, which supplies the ALUP brand to a network of distributors, explains:

“Manufacturers typically replace or update their compressed air generation infrastructure on an occasional basis, so when the need to invest in a new system arises, it presents a golden opportunity for them to maximise every possible saving. Carefully selecting the right compressed air solution with the most up-to-date technology is fundamental to achieving this goal in terms of meeting both current and future needs and ensuring production is as sustainable as possible.”

A pioneer in compressor technology since the 1920s, ALUP has invested significantly in its development programme with a primary objective of delivering customers with optimised TCO through reduced energy consumption and ensuring compressed air delivery is reliable through the use of innovatively engineered components.

In terms of compressed air system TCO, energy consumption can represent over 70% of the cost of owning and running a compressor. With this in mind, ALUP has introduced the latest IE4 iPM motor technology to its Evoluto range of oil-injected screw compressors, which offer motor powers of 110 to 160kW and working pressures between 4 and 10 Bar and free air delivery from 23.6M3/min to 33.1M3/min.

Suitable for industries including glass, textiles, metals and cement, automotive and power generation, Evoluto compressors represent the next step in the development of variable speed drive (VSD) technology, providing customers with greater scope to select and integrate the most appropriate compressor into their compressed air system.

Compared to conventional compressor motors that constantly operate at a single speed and full load, Evoluto compressors feature ALUP iPM technology which automatically adjusts the speed of the motor to meet the fluctuations in air demand found in most production environments. As a result, Evoluto compressors powered by the iPM motor offer a 45% energy saving compared with a fixed speed compressor, based on meeting the same demand profile over the same period.

Additional considerations

Further factors to consider when upgrading or replacing a compressed air system include selecting the correct air receiver capacity for the system and ensuring the correct mix of wet/dry receivers, and positioning them within the system to accommodate any local peak flow requirements. The British Compressed Air Society (BCAS) recommends a receiver capacity of six to ten times the output of the compressor in litres per second (L/sec). For example, a system delivering 100 L/sec requires a 1,000L cylinder. Simple steps, such as ensuring the correct generation and delivery of compressed air at a constant pressure, also support TCO reduction with energy savings of around 7% for every single bar of working pressure generated. In addition, a system designed with the correct size air receivers can lead to a further 5% energy saving.

System optimisation

Utilising advanced AIRchitect datalogging equipment and software, ALUP distributors are fully equipped to support customers in determining how existing compressed air systems can be fully optimised and improved. AIRchitect also offers the capability to provide a bespoke compressed air design and proposal with specific recommendations in terms of the technology employed and energy-saving gains to minimise TCO. In addition, AIRchitect determines the opportunity for heat recovery, which offers the greatest potential to gain energy savings of up to 75% by redirecting the heat generated for applications such as year-round process water heating and hot air heating during winter.

Maintenance is another area that influences compressor TCO and LCC, as well as maximising service intervals, minimising downtime and reducing costs. To achieve this, Evoluto compressors are equipped with long-lifetime consumables, which enable long service intervals of 4,000 hours. Evoluto compressors also feature ALUP’s Intelligent Connectivity System (ICONS), which provides Internet of Things 4.0 (IoT 4.0) real-time information, as well as a ‘SCOPE’ warranty package for peace of mind.

Air treatment

Alongside compressed air generation and delivery, air treatment is another important area to consider in terms of reducing TCO. Pneumatech, ALUP’s chosen air treatment partner brand, offers a range of technologies that ensure the correct specification of compressed air is produced for specific applications. Manufactured in accordance with ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards, Pneumatech offers a full range of air treatment equipment designed to ensure the lowest pressure drop, while VSD technology on refrigerant dryers and zero purge on desiccant dryers further enhance the TCO and LCC of the complete compressed air system. The air treatment specialist also provides diagnostic and monitoring technology in the form of flow metering, validation of air quality and dewpoint and air leakage detection with energy management reporting in accordance with ISO 50001.

Pneumatech offers two specific air drying technologies: Mechanical separation using refrigeration to achieve a dewpoint of +3oC, which is suitable for the majority of industrial applications, and desiccant dryers that use pressure swing adsorption (PSA) or temperature swing adsorption (TSA) for applications that demand a very low dewpoint of -40oC to -70oC. The manufacturer also provides a comprehensive range of compressed air filters based on unique and enhanced proprietary filter media to reduce all forms of contamination efficiently.

In addition to air treatment, Pneumatech is a leader in designing and manufacturing on-site gas generation technology with both standard and engineered products that enable manufacturers to produce oxygen or nitrogen at up to 300 Bar on-site and on-demand with a return on investment that’s typically under two years. Compared to off-site generation, on-site gas generation offers several advantages such as lower operational costs due to no rental charges, transport expenses or evaporation losses and none of the safety hazards associated with the handling of high-pressure cylinders. Further benefits include the ability to easily integrate gas generation systems within existing compressed air installations and the ability to set the correct level of gas purity for specific applications.


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