Vacuum industry set for a shake-up

With its low energy usage and ultra-quiet operation, Atlas Copco’s new-generation GHS VSD+ vacuum pump is making a mark on the industrial vacuum market.

Mention the company’s name and most people think of air compressors, but now with this vacuum pump and its ability to slash energy usage by an average of 50 per cent, it is being noticed elsewhere.

Pierre Matschke, Atlas Copco’s Regional Business Line Manager – South East Asia – Oceania for Utility Vacuum, said the transformation process really started back in 2014 when the company acquired vacuum company Edwards, a global leader in high vacuum applications.

“Since then, using Edwards’s technology and knowledge, coupled with our own internal expertise, we have developed our own stand-out vacuum pumps for the industrial (rough) market, from atmospheric pressure down to 1 millibar,” Matschke said.

With an inlet control valve, a variable speed drive and a MKV graphic controller, the intelligent vacuum pump is said to offer advantages for industrial users over current technologies available to the market.

Officially released in April 2015, the vacuum pump series is suitable for a variety of industrial applications and currently includes models from 350m3/hr to 1,900m3/hr with plans to expand the range up to 4,500m3/hr in mid-2016.

Matschke explained that the vacuum pump reduces energy usage in three very important areas.

“The first is on start-up current, where the machine practically eliminates start-up peaks.

“Then we have huge efficiency gains by using an oil-injected rotary screw element, which is exceptional in the vacuum pump market.

“And by using VSD (Variable Speed Drive) technology, the pump follows the vacuum demand curve, unlike most other vacuum pumps on the market, which operate flat out all the time.”

Matschke went on to say that operating costs can also be reduced by centralisation.

“For example, rather than having one vane pump per production line at a packing plant, we have the capability to synchronise the operation with just one smaller (overall), but far more efficient vacuum pump, saving the company a considerable amount of money in energy costs, plus far quieter and reliable.“

Matschke said the vacuum pumps offer other benefits including: excellent oil retention figures at all operating pressures (less than 3ppm), IE3 motors and VSD as standard, and one size smaller motor for the same or better performance.

Installation costs are also lower due to the pumps plug & play design, plus its footprint is one of the smallest on the market: no larger than the footprint of a standard pallet.

“Everything required is delivered as a complete package, which is significant for workplace installations, plus its operating noise is the lowest on the market, with the range average of 51-74dB(A)).”

Matschke pointed out that the company can conduct a vacuum audit and accurately estimate what savings the company will make once the new vacuum pump is installed.

He also pointed to a Vacuum Solutions APP on iTunes/Apple Store and Play Store where users can make their own conservative energy assessment.

Matschke said the GHS VSD+ vacuum pumps are suitable for a wide range of applications in a wide range of industries including to process and package foods including poultry, seafood, cheese, smallgoods, diary, meat and vegetables.

They can also be found in general manufacturing, for automated pick-and-place processes as well as in can manufacturing and the woodworking, mining, medical, brick, tile and plastics industry.