CEO insights 2019: Mark Ferguson, Southern Cross Compressors
What key trends do you predict will have an impact on the growth of your industry in 2019?
With the continuing rise in energy costs, air compressor operators will or should be seeking to lower their costs of generating compressed air. Ways they may achieve this are:
- Making sure their current system is well maintained and air leak free by conducting an air audit or leak detection survey.
- Optimising efficiency by combining with the right ancillary system components including dryers, filters, after coolers, pressure vessels, oil/water separators, auto drains etc.
- Upgrading to a more efficient type and model of compressor that is matched to their production output and demand profile.
- Utilising variable speed drive technology that programs the compressor to provide for fluctuating demands in work schedules thereby using less energy in lower or non-usage periods.
- Opting for two-stage compressors that allow the compression ratio to be split over two distinct rotary screw airends resulting in compression ratios across each airend of around 3:1. The outcome is less slippage, less bearing loads and with intercooling, significantly higher outputs for the installed motor power. The output of a two-stage compressor is typically around 20% higher than that of an equivalent single-stage compressor.
- Utilising new age, PMVF compressed air systems that combine the most energy efficient combination of proven energy-saving technologies in the compressed air industry today. It really is a unique systematic optimisation of an advanced compressor unit, superior airend quality and dynamics integrated with the latest in permanent magnet motors which require a lower kW input to maintain specified air demand. It’s a game changer, offering unsurpassed efficiency in compressors down to 22 kW, providing models suitable for virtually any industry application. When PMFV is applied through two-stage technology models, it can provide up to 50% increased efficiency over conventional compressor types.
What are the three biggest challenges facing your industry in 2019?
- Providing our clients with the very best energy-saving technologies available to offset the expense of powering their industry with compressed air. That requires both the manufacture of world’s best compressed air engineering and energy-saving technologies through ongoing research and development.
- Offering a range of compressor types and models that are specifically suited to any output need from small workshops to major industry. We need to educate our customer base to understand the ‘pay back’ realities of embracing new compressed air technologies which will in turn save millions of dollars in energy savings across Australian industry.
- Providing mobile and in-house servicing facilities through highly trained technicians with minimum response times. This requires the education of Australian industry on the importance of strict maintenance regimes that ultimately save more than they cost.
How is your industry preparing for advanced manufacturing capabilities?
In our particular case, our parent company, Kaishan Group, is constantly researching and trialling new, energy-saving technologies in manufacturing and research facilities around the world. Now, Australian industry can access latest, world’s best engineering and technology that provides them with a real choice, allowing near-perfect matching to customer requirements. This is showcased with the new range of permanent magnet, variable frequency (PMVF) compressors mentioned earlier.
What is your industry doing to attract, upskill and retain talent?
As now one of Australia’s leading compressed air equipment supplier and servicing companies, here at Southern Cross our people are under a constant training regime to stay abreast of international developments in the industry. Our technicians are highly trained in all the latest compressed air technologies that not only enable us to service and repair our own brand but all types of compressors and equipment currently in use throughout Australia.
We are constantly on the lookout for the best people right throughout the industry to provide customers with the latest and best advice, products and services available. We are also expanding our network of national distribution and services.
How is your industry preparing for technology developments such as artificial intelligence?
With the introduction of Variable Speed and PMVF technologies that have the ability to program from single- to multi-system compressors to automatically respond to compressed air demand, we have already entered a form of artificial intelligence that provides peace of mind to operators. Such control systems ensure that the compressor/s are running at peak efficiency from 0 to maximum demand. Automatic monitoring and warning systems also let operators know when and why any efficiency loss occurs.
How close to reality are smart cities and how much is hype?
If we stick our heads in the sand and don’t believe much of the hype then we are not speculating on the future and will ultimately stagnate. Technological and human progress seems to constantly accelerate and what we can only dream about today can jump up to bite us pretty quickly if we become complacent and don’t invest in ‘Future Industry Speculation’.
A recent specialised installation of our KHE compressors is so automated that the system can be operated, programmed and controlled from any of the customer’s facilities throughout Australia… something we would not have considered a relatively short time ago.
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