If several compressors work together in a compressed air station, the use of a higher-level control system is recommended. This loads the individual machines evenly and lets them work at their optimal operating point. This reduces the maintenance effort , extends the service life, increases the overall efficiency of the compressed air supply considerably and at the same time minimizes costs.
A superordinate compressor control can be compared with the coach of a soccer team or the conductor of an orchestra. As the central authority, these ensure that the individual athletes or musicians fully exploit their strengths and coordinate the individual services to achieve an optimal overall result. Compressed air is a particularly high-quality, i.e. expensive, energy that is generated today by cutting-edge technology. A higher-level controller optimally uses the performance of the individual compressors and lets them play together particularly efficiently . This means that users receive every cubic meter of compressed air as cost-effectively as possible.
When planning a new compressed air station, which consists of more than one compressor, the use of a higher-level control system should therefore be considered in any case. Ask your compressor supplier which device he recommends in your particular case and be informed about possible cost savings. It makes sense not only to compare the investment with the electricity costs saved, but also to consider the possibly reduced maintenance costs, the longer service life of the machines and the increase in production reliability. The possibility of funding should also be clarified.
Retrofitting existing compressed air stations also increases efficiency and can be funded. Find out from your compressor provider about potential savings by retrofitting a higher-level control and inquire about the current technical possibilities regarding visualization and documentation. Because the higher-level controls of the latest generation not only help you to reduce costs, but also make the savings achieved visible in real time. This gives you the certainty at all times that your station is working cost-efficiently.
The most important factors when choosing a superordinate compressor control are:
Number, performance and make of the compressors to be controlled
Performance and make of the processing technology / dryer to be controlled
Regulation of machines with fixed and / or variable speed
Number of compressed air networks
Visualization and documentation requirements
Data processing in-house or externally
Desired interfaces for integration in process control technology
Atlas Copco provides the appropriate higher-level control for compressor stations of all sizes and requirements. The devices not only make a two-machine station work particularly cost-effectively, but also large systems including compressed air dryers and speed-controlled external compressors . With the latest version of the higher-level compressor controls, currently Optimizer 4.0, three different compressed air networks can also be controlled in parallel. The optimizer controls depending on the volume flow. This means that the controller determines which compressor works most efficiently at the respective point in time depending on the volume flow and controls it. The characteristics of all machines are stored in the control.
Unlike the previous model of the Atlas Copco ES series, the new optimizer control enables data preparation and visualization without detours via the Smartlink remote monitoring system in your own company. On the intuitive user interface, the operator can view the performance and energy consumption of each machine and the entire system at any time and monitor the station via LAN, a Scada system or using special software on a PC or other end device. The so-called compressed air ratio, which provides information about the energy requirement - and thus the price - per standard cubic meter of compressed air is also available in real time. For a digital integration of the compressed air system into your process control technology, the Industry 4.0-compatible control offers Modbus TCP / IP, Ethernet IP and Profinet in addition to the classic interfaces like Profibus DP and Modbus RTU.
Compressed air management using Optimizer 4.0 alone can reduce energy costs by 5 to 7 percent - for example by lowering the print belt. Atlas Copco recommends using the controller for stations with two to three compressors and an output of at least 100 kilowatts. Among them, the cost savings - for the quick amortization usually desired by investors - may not be sufficient. Alternatively, the predecessor model can be retrofitted at around 50% of the cost for the optimizer control. However, with this variant, the user is not at the same level in terms of interfaces and hardware.
Ask your compressor supplier which device he recommends for your specific case. Get the possible energy savings calculated and inquire about funding opportunities. On this basis, you quickly gain clarity as to whether the investment is worthwhile for you and in what period it will have paid for itself.