Sizing up requirements

A compressor is often considered as the workhorse of the shop floor, providing air to power tools and manufacturing processes. However, Steve Downes, Hydrovane sales manager for Gardner Denver, says there are a number of factors to take in to account to ensure that the installation is fit for purpose and able to deliver the required volume of air.

Window fabricators must select the most appropriate compressor to suit their demands. With air tools and systems reliant on a continuous, dependable source of air, owners will want the assurance that their compressed air system is operating reliably and efficiently.

It can be tempting to purchase a compressed air system for a lower upfront cost, but this may not offer the durability required, which can lead to higher maintenance costs that may negate any original savings.

Consequently, it is recommended that business owners look at the whole life costs of their compressor, rather than focusing on its purchase price alone. By considering service costs as parts of a larger whole, owners are better able to hold their system’s performance to account.

Businesses looking to replace their compressor will also need to size the unit to meet air demand; taking in to account the minimum and maximum air pressures and compressed air flow that the new system requires before installation.

Many suppliers can carry out an energy audit on the existing compressed air installation. Using a data-logging device, this can provide valuable insight in to current performance, including energy consumption and any identified pressure drops or areas for improvement.

These findings can then be used to help owners make an informed decision, as many sites may find that their existing compressed is oversized for the application, both in terms of physical unit size and also the volume of air generated in relation to system demand.

Correct specification is not simply a case of sizing a compressor correctly however. The air generated must also be the right quality, as dirt and moisture can have a negative impact on the finished product.

Installing the necessary downstream equipment is therefore critical, but historically customers investing in a new compressed air system may have selected these component parts separately; a process which can add both cost and time to the overall installation.

This is where solutions, such as the Hydrovane Air Solution from Gardner Denver, can help owners save money. The system combines a rotary vane compressor with a range of ancillary equipment including an air receiver, dryer and in-line filtration in a fully integrated package.

In addition, selecting a package solution will help businesses to realise significant savings by choosing a single source supplier for all aspects of their compressed air system.

A further area that will have a positive impact on compressor performance is maintenance. Poor compressor maintenance can be costly – the Carbon Trust reports that a pipework leak as small as 3mm may cost over £700 in wasted energy per year. A simple leak detection survey can detect any problems quickly, so they can be resolved.

Such on-going maintenance is integral to ensuring the reliability and energy efficiency of a compressed air system. Gardner Denver always recommends owners carry out regular maintenance on their compressed air system, including routine service, performance and safety checks from a qualified engineer.

To help businesses improve the reliability, efficiency and quality of their compressed air, Gardner Denver has produced a new guide called ‘Hydrovane: one solution, all you need’, which is available for free download.