Although the majority of today’s air compressors and all relevant accessories can be purchased as fully-integrated, plug and play packages, it is important to remember that the installation method and siting may still have a significant influence on a compressor system’s performance and reliability.
Regardless of the application industry, try to position the compressed air system in one designated, centralised location. As a consequence you benefit from improved operating economy, a better-designed compressed air installation and service provision, greater user-friendliness, better opportunities for controlled ventilation and noise levels and, last but not least, protection against unauthorised access.
Wherever the compressed air equipment is situated best practice demands that a ring main is used in order to avoid pressure drops in the system.
Direct installation in a workshop or warehouse close to the point of use saves space and enables energy savings due to minimum pressure drop as a result of shorter pipework runs. It can also provide a viable opportunity for energy recovery via the cooling air or oil, for example.
If space restrictions indoors demand that the compressor is sited under a roof structure outdoors, stringent measures must be taken to ensure all-weather protection, provision of adequate firm foundations and minimum risk of ingress of dust, flammable or aggressive substances, as well as secure access.
Normally only a flat floor of sufficient weight-bearing capacity is required to set up the compressor plant. In most cases, vibration damping is integrated into the equipment. However, it is usual to cast a concrete plinth for the compressor package to allow for floor cleaning and provide a base for new installations.
Essentially for large installations with lengthy pipework runs, the centralised compressor facility should be sited for optimum routing of the distribution system. Ensure there is enough space for easy service and maintenance access and try to situate the installation close to supplementary equipment such as pumps and fans – even to the boiler room.
Ensure enough clearance height so that lifting equipment can handle the compressor’s heaviest components, such as the electric motor. The room should ideally also have enough floor space to install an extra compressor for backup or future expansion. Provision of drainage is equally important in order to handle condensate from compressors, aftercoolers, dryers, air receivers. Finally, take into account local regulations for waste disposal.
For trouble-free, efficient operation, compressor intake air must be clean and free of solid and gaseous contamination. Particles of dust and dirt can cause wear, and corrosive gases are particularly damaging. The compressor air inlet is usually located at an opening in the sound-reducing enclosure, but can also be placed remotely in a place in which the air is as clean as possible. Gases from vehicle exhaust fumes can be lethal should they contaminate a breathing air supply. A pre-filter, either a cyclone, panel or rotary band filter, should be used on installations where the surrounding air has a high dust concentration. In such cases, the pressure drop caused by the pre-filter must be accounted for during the design phase of an installation.
It is also beneficial for the intake air to be cool. So select an inlet position that is generally in the shade if possible when drawing air from outside.
Because compressors generate heat, adequate compressor room ventilation is vital. Ventilation air should be drawn in from the exterior of the building at a maximum velocity of 4 m/s, preferably without extensive ducting and, where possible, the inlet should be positioned on a north-facing wall to provide shade in the hotter months of the year. Grille and air stream damper units prevent foreign objects from entering and they eliminate cold draughts. The intake needs to be positioned as low as possible on one wall while thermostatically-controlled ventilation fans should be sited at the highest point on the opposite wall. Always consult an expert when choosing ventilation methods; many good installations have been spoilt by incorrect cooling methods.
Consider disturbance due to noise or the compressor's ventilation requirements, the provision of drainage, hazardous surroundings, e.g. exposure to dust or flammable substances and aggressive materials in the air. If the compressor is sited in an area of a building that is used for other purposes or near to staff who are carrying out other duties, then their health and safety needs to be taken into consideration, as well as accessibility for service.
In order to ensure the optimum performance and reliability of compressor equipment, as a vital part of the production process, it is important to take all of these considerations into account when designing a compressor room installation. Equally important is to work with a reliable partner for your air compressor installation.
Experienced engineers from Atlas Copco and its distributors will go the extra mile to ensure that installation of the compressed air package takes into account the specifics of your site.