Substantial energy savings make air compressor decision easy

Atlas Copco Compressors Australia
Friday, 07 March, 2014

Australian manufacturer of flexible connectors Aquaknect Flexible recently replaced its ageing compressors with Atlas Copco’s latest VSD (variable speed drive) compact oil-injected rotary screw air compressor - the GA VSD+.

Aquaknect Flexible has manufacturing operations in Meadowbrook, Queensland, allowing it to tailor-make hoses for its customers’ specific requirements with very short turnaround times. The company uses the compressed air to drive its crimping and cutting machines as well as vital testing equipment.

Like most manufacturers in Australia, the ever-increasing cost of electricity was a huge factor when deciding on a new compressor for the manufacturing plant.

“Reduction of running costs, reliability and cleaner air delivery were the key features why we chose the Atlas Copco GA VSD+ air compressor for our Queensland manufacturing facility,” said Tom Davies, general manager of Aquaknect Flexible.

Davies explained that the company had been using old technology - three old and inefficient Hydrovane compressors.

“Now we just have the one latest-generation Atlas Copco compressor, instead of three,” he added.

Duncan Vaughan, sales engineer with Atlas Copco’s Queensland Industrial Air Division, said: “These are brilliant machines. The power savings alone are significant enough to justify investing in a new machine.

“The new compressor delivers far more air, better air quality, and far more efficiently than what the company had in the past.”

Vaughan explained that the GA VSD+ was officially launched in Australia in October 2013, but he was able to install this compressor a couple of weeks prior to the launch.

“It has only been installed for a couple months now, but it is clear the compressor will deliver the savings predicted. Early figures show considerable energy savings already,” he said.

Vaughan explained that Aquaknect Flexible decided to lease the new air compressor rather than an outright purchase, and when comparing the lease costs it is clear why Davies decided on an Atlas Copco GA VSD+ 15kW machine.

“We estimated that an equivalent fixed speed air compressor would cost 50% more over the life of the lease.”

He said the GA VSD+ compressor offers a major leap forward in FAD (free air delivery) with improvements of up to 12% and a breakthrough in energy efficiency requiring on average 50% less energy than a comparable idling compressor.

“Plus, it’s much quieter than the old Hydrovanes, and other air compressors on the market; down to an unbelievable 62 db(A).

“In fact, it is so quiet that when the compressor was first installed, the workers at the plant often forgot to turn the compressor off at the end of their shift, even though the compressor is in the work area, up on a mezzanine level.

“To overcome the problem, we simply programmed the machine to turn itself off at the end of every day,” Vaughan said.

Suitable for a range of industries, the new rotary screw compressor is driven by a high-efficiency IPM (interior permanent magnet) motor, which exceeds IE 3 rating at 94.5%; corresponding to IE 4 (Super Premium Efficiency motor class).

The compact motor, which was designed by Atlas Copco, features optimal oil cooling and an oil-lubricated motor bearing all in a sealed unit, meaning no greasing of bearings or airflow required for cooling of the motor.

And unlike traditional compressors, the motor and drive train share one drive shaft and are vertically aligned to allow a smaller footprint of 55% compared to the previous range. There are also no gears, belts or shaft seal to maintain.

The whole drive train is completely closed, offering IP66 protection, with one oil circuit that cools the motor and lubricates the element and bearings.

“Our old machines offered an average of 35% power savings, but these machines offer a massive 50% in power savings,” said Vaughan.

Other energy-efficient components of the GA VSD+ compressor include a more efficient fan, robust air intake system and an innovative air inlet valve, which is maintenance-free. The mechanical polymer inlet valve uses air to open and close (no spring) and with no ‘blow-off’ in operation, resulting in no unloaded power consumption.

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