Oil-free compressors take a bite out of energy costs
Published: 21 August 2012 - Heather Ramsden
Since installing three oil-free compressors and control equipment from CompAir, food processing company Ifantis’ plant in Athens, Greece has experienced a 15% reduction in compressed air energy usage, whilst its maintenance requirements and associated costs have been lowered by 25 per cent.
With three factories located in Greece and Romania, Ifantis boasts a portfolio of over 500 high quality food products including deli meats, traditional Greek salads, pizzas, hamburgers and even bakery goods and fresh pasta.
Capable of producing 70 tonnes of food in one shift, the company’s Athens plant uses compressed air for the operation of pneumatic machines for processing and packaging across its production line. A stable air pressure of 6 bar is required throughout the site’s 24-hour operation.
Work recently began on extending the plant’s production line, which included the installation of additional processing equipment. Due to the age of its existing units, and the fact that the demand for air had increased, the company looked to replace its compressed air system.
Chris Vasiliadis, maintenance manager at Ifantis comments: “We chose to replace our existing compressors with three oil-free, variable-speed machines from CompAir; the clean air that they provide makes them ideally suited to meet our stringent hygiene requirements.
“In addition, the variable-speed drive technology matches compressor flow to demand with great efficiency. This means that the units produce the correct volume of air to match our requirements at all times.
“The new machines have proved to be more reliable than our previous compressors which has led to fewer stoppages in production.”
CompAir’s DH compressors have a different operating principle to conventional oil-free screw and piston compressors and operate without any oil lubrication.
The compressor block is lubricated, sealed and cooled by water, which is sprayed into the compression element. Water’s excellent cooling properties allow the compressor to be operated at low compression temperatures not exceeding 60oC. The result means the compressor is highly efficient, while the power consumption is correspondingly low.
The gearless drive train also improves energy efficiency, whilst the electronic control system performs the tasks of a mechanical gearbox, which means many mechanical components which are prone to wear can be dispensed with - another plus point when it comes to cutting overall costs.
In addition to the three DH compressors, CompAir supplied a refrigerant dryer and filter set to ensure the provision of clean, dry air to the factory along with a SmartAir Master and remote monitoring controller, which operates all of the units to the narrowest pressure band.
Vasiliadis adds: “The SmartAir Master ensures that the most efficient compressor combination is selected, thereby avoiding the risk and associated cost of offload running.
“The unit’s remote monitoring capability allows us to easily view system performance and detect any errors via a PC. It has also allowed us to equalise running hours so that no machine is over or underused.
“Since installing the new equipment, we’ve seen a 15 per cent reduction in energy usage and have lowered our maintenance requirements and associated costs by 25 per cent.”