More than one path to compressor efficiency

VSD air compressors coupled with innovative finance options offer manufacturers the potential for lower total ownership costs. Jonas Holmdahl writes.

WITH compressed air accounting for as much as 30% of a factory’s total energy consumption, it is no wonder that compressed air efficiency is at the top of most company agendas. 

Searching for the right solution can be difficult, with many companies claiming to offer energy efficient solutions. 

At the top of the pyramid for energy efficient compressed air solutions is Variable Speed Drive (VSD) technology, which is basically a way to control the speed of an air compressor motor and therefore amount of air produced. 

By speeding up and slowing down the motor the compressor can produce the exact amount of air needed to meet the plant air demands, as opposed to running at full speed and then idling until the storage capacity is used before running at full speed again like a traditional compressor. 

However, what most people don’t realise is that the ability of the compressor to slow down to as much as 20% of its full speed is paramount in ensuring that the full benefit of VSD is realised, and only the best quality systems with motors and components specifically designed to operate this way can achieve this level. 

Up until recently, a VSD compressor with up to 20% speed turn down could on average save 35% of energy consumption.  However, the latest VSD+ compressors, produced by Atlas Copco Compressors, will now provide average savings of 50%. 

The VSD+ compressors offer improved performance, silent operation (down to 62 dB(A)) and a compact footprint, thanks to its vertical drive train design.

The heart of the VSD+ is an interior permanent magnet motor, directly coupled to Atlas Copco’s best-in-class screw element.

While the initial purchase price is important, the quality of the compressor is also important and so are the customer benefits that it brings.

Jeff Treble, Business Line Manager for Industrial Air at Atlas Copco Compressors said the company’s VSD technology is unrivalled in the marketplace with VSD+ and its own Neos inverter drive built specifically for compressor applications.

“This gives it the ability to withstand the sometimes harsh conditions that air compressors must operate in,” he said.

He admitted that, with businesses looking hard at expenses, the price-tag is often the deciding factor when buying equipment.

However, he explained that Atlas Copco can help customers reach their potential by reducing energy consumption; and becoming more efficient.

[Jonas Holmdahl is Communications Business Partner with Atlas Copco Compressors Australia]