Compressed air system brings energy savings at seals plant

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Trelleborg Sealing Solutions' UK facility reports that over £11,000 savings in annual energy costs have been achieved from its new Atlas Copco GA45VSD+FF compressor installation

Compressed air system brings energy savings at seals plantThe Trelleborg Sealing Solutions manufacturing facility in Tewkesbury is one of the Trelleborg Group’s prime European production and development facilities for standard and custom-made high pressure elastomer seals.

These specialist polymer components are designed primarily for aerospace applications and other niche industrial markets that include chemical and hydrocarbon processing, pharmaceutical, food and beverage production, as well as the semiconductor manufacturing sector.

An essential requirement of the production processes at the Tewkesbury site is a constant, large volume supply of compressed air. Within the 6000ft2 Gloucestershire facility, the wide variety of applications for the air supply ranges from actuating pneumatic doors on production machinery to the removal of processed products from moulding tools and the spraying of bonding agents on to metals. Says Ian Henderson, engineering manager for the Tewkesbury manufacturing facility comments: “Everyone takes compressed air for granted, but it is very important throughout our production processes. Compressed air is one of our three fundamental site facilities.”

The company had moved its manufacturing facility, including its compressed air system, from its former site in Ashchurch to the state-of-the-art facility in Tewkesbury. It was seen as the perfect time to replace its existing and energy-demanding fixed-speed compressor installation with a contemporary upgraded solution. A system that would guarantee a stable, reliable and energy-efficient supply of compressed air, to match the performance and productivity of the updated plant, was the main requirement.

Measuring plant air requirements

As part of the new equipment evaluation project, Henderson and his energy management and purchasing colleagues, invited Atlas Copco engineers to carry out an iiTrak system energy audit on the existing compressor system. This data monitoring exercise measured the plant air requirement, provided real-life comparison data on which to base recommendations for the most energy-efficient solution, estimated the potential savings that could be achieved, and considered scope for future growth. Henderson says: “By monitoring and evaluating the energy consumption of the old compressor, we estimated, from real live data, that we had a great opportunity to save significant energy costs by replacing the machine with a new and much more efficient one."

Based on the audit, Trelleborg Sealing Solutions decided to install a full-feature Atlas Copco GA45VSD+FF rotary screw compressor with integrated refrigerant dryer as an ‘endurance machine’ on a six-month free trial basis. Running the plant at 6.2 bar air system pressure rather than 7 bar, combined with the VSD’s capability to vary output from 26 to 155 l/s to match the facility’s compressed air demands, the new compressor’s performance results were impressive — it provided savings of 62 per cent in energy consumption, down from 45 to 17kWh, which adds up to £11,400 in annual energy cost savings.

In addition to the significant cost savings, the sealing specialist has also benefited from the compressor’s quiet operation — Henderson remarks: “The Atlas Copco VSD+ is so quiet that in the beginning I had to check that it was actually switched on!”

The company’s current production objective is to achieve a three per cent improvement annually in energy consumption. Kiet Huynh, general manager of the Tewkesbury facility, says: “Replacing the old compressors was a great initiative. ‘Energy excellence’ is our company mantra and the new compressor is a very good example of applying that philosophy. Energy efficiency remains high on the agenda for Trelleborg Sealing Solutions at Tewkesbury and we are always striving to raise the bar.”

25 April 2017

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