According to Jaydon Prinsloo, Advanced Service Sales Engineer at Atlas Copco Compressor Technique, “The production of compressed air is one of the biggest energy consumers in manufacturing and processing plants, expending to roughly 4% of the total global energy consumption.” Atlas Copco’s analysing, optimising, and monitoring service solutions assist users in gaining the full benefit from their air compressor systems by maximising the overall efficiency of their compressed air installations through improved reliability and availability and significant reductions in energy consumption and CO₂ emissions.
Prinsloo notes that energy is the most expensive component in the total cost of producing compressed air, making up to 70% of a compressor’s life cycle costs. He says, “Given that compressed air is the life blood of most production plants, users are dependent on this critical commodity. We are also acutely aware of the fact that users are under constant pressure to produce more at lower costs to ensure sustainable and profitable operations.” Users therefor need to understand their compressed air system, know if it is efficient and identify efficiency opportunities.
To this end, the Company’s AIRScan can be used to conduct an audit of the compressed air installation to establish system efficiency and identify potential energy saving opportunities. One can establish whether compressed air is produced at a higher pressure than required or if there are any air leaks. This compressor audit software generates a report that provides in-depth problem evaluation, realistic projections, actionable insights, and recommendations to enable users to make well-informed decisions.
The Company recommends that customers first address the quick fixes that deliver fast results. “So, we start with air leak detection and repair, saving up to a staggering 43kw on 1cm leak at 7bar,” advises Prinsloo. Losses in energy consumption of as much as 20% can be quickly remedied with a simple repair using Atlas Copco’s RePress. “This cost-saving and sustainable product enables leak detection and repair to be carried out while the distribution net is under pressure, eliminating the need for dismantling pipes and couplings, which means zero downtime of the compressed air system,” emphasises Prinsloo.
The next step in optimising compressed air system performance is the automation of equipment control to achieve efficiency, reliability, and connectivity. The Company’s master controller, Optimizer 4.0, ensures that users get the best compressor energy performance and minimised CO₂ emissions, with the added benefit of maximum local and online connectivity. Equalizer 4.0 equalises the running hours and lowers the pressure band, reducing energy consumption.
The AIRnet aluminium and stainless-steel pipe range also facilitates optimal compressed air system performance and efficiency by providing optimal conditions so that high quality compressed air reaches the point of use with the right pressure and flow. The anti-corrosive, rust-proof properties of aluminium ensure less pressure drop and subsequently optimises air quality allowing for 100% oil-free air delivery from generation to point-of-use and is ideal for harsh environments.
“Knowing the status of the compressed air equipment at all times and being in a position to react quickly is the final step in achieving optimum efficiency and maximum availability,” states Prinsloo. The Company’s advanced monitoring and communication system, SmartLink, monitors and self-diagnoses Atlas Copco machines and automatically uploads data via GPS to Atlas Copco servers in the cloud. SmartLink tracks all the vital signs of the compressed air equipment and can actively monitor more than 30 data points. Alerts can be sent to smart devices. It generates customised reports and recommendations that enables users to follow up on the performance and service status of all the equipment in the air compressor room, boosting overall machine health.
Another SmartLink value add, Service Timeline, indicates the service status of every machine and provides a calendar of planned visits as well as service reports. On-time service and predictive maintenance maximise uptime by enhancing machine reliability and stability. SmartLink Uptime keeps an eye on critical components with service, sensor and alarm data uploaded from the compressor every 40 seconds. Should an issue arise, users as well as Atlas Copco are immediately alerted and technicians are dispatched, helping to avoid costly unscheduled downtime. With SmartLink, which is ISO 50001 (Energy Management) compliant, users can realise energy savings of up to 30% and apply sustainable environmental practices.
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