February 1, 2019
Ken Revell, Business Line Manager Sales & Marketing for Atlas Copco’s Compressor Technique Service Division, looks at how small parts can make a big difference to production equipment performance and reliability.
Few would deny the logic of ensuring the continued performance of production equipment, but recent findings show that not everyone is aware that the quality of spare parts can have a significant effect in terms of costs and efficiency. At a time when capital expenditure and budgets are under increasing pressure it’s vital that manufacturers guarantee continuous production, and to do so they need to ensure their machinery is properly maintained.
In the case of compressor components, it is essential that high quality systems should be maintained and serviced with genuine spare parts to reduce the risk of performance dips, over-usage of energy and reduced lifetime, all of which can have a negative impact on the compressor owner’s capital investment.
The importance of maintaining performance levels is clearly demonstrated by recent testing carried out by TÜV Rheinland that compared two single-stage screw compressor blocks to verify their efficiency in low pressure and low pressure operation mode. The test items were a new Atlas Copco Z2 MkII and a refurbished Z-series compressor block.
The results showed that the specific energy requirement (SER) of the refurbished block was, depending upon speed and pressure, between 6.2 to 25.6 percent higher – an average of +13 percent – than the original.
Compressors may be suffering in silence: in the long term, non-genuine spare parts, including lubricants, can be creating unseen damage to machinery, surreptitiously diminishing efficiency or, worse still, affecting process air purity which in turn might result in end-product quality issues. The impact may not be immediate, although the effect on total lifecycle costs can be massive. The consequences could not only create an unnecessary cost burden but also potentially do significant damage to a company’s reputation due to production downtime and failure to fulfil orders. To illustrate this, a snapshot survey of compressor owners in 2015 revealed that over 40 percent had suffered compressor breakdowns during the past year, with some instances of production downtime costs in the region of £20,000.
Here are just some examples of what happens when original spare parts or recommended lubricants are not employed:
Overall, the impact on compressor performance from fitting non-genuine OEM components of this type is hard to ignore. A pressure drop of 1 bar from the oil separator will increase energy consumption by 7 per cent. In the case of air filters, for every 25 mbar pressure drop, compressor output is decreased by 2 per cent.
There is a further consideration on replacement parts related to the age of a compressor. Survey results suggest that in the UK 40 per cent of single compressor installations are between 5 to 10 years old. Likewise, 20 percent of the compressor population is between 11 and 20 years old. It follows that there has to be a right time to consider a complete replacement for a long-service compressor rather than fitting individual components to keep it going. For example, it can mean the difference between spending £10K on an authentic replacement element or £30K on the latest, state-of-the-art, energy efficient solution. It may be a more expensive move in the short term but it will pay back in the medium to long term in terms of performance, reliability and energy savings. With ready availability of credit, including OEM’s finance packages, the initial costs can be effectively offset.
But well before any compressor reaches worklife retirement age, the simple truth is that only by using original spare parts can its designed performance and efficiency be maintained at the same level as when it was purchased. In that way, investment is not compromised and neither is the compressor’s quality output. What’s clear is that small parts can make a big difference.
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1 - Compressed air industry survey 2015 (Mark Allen Group)
Atlas Copco Compressors is the GB sales and service operation of the Atlas Copco Group providing oil-free and oil-injected stationary air compressors, gas and process compressors, vacuum pumps, turbo expanders, nitrogen generators, air treatment equipment (such as compressed air dryers, coolers, and filters) air management systems, and custom designed engineered packages.
Atlas Copco Compressors’ sales and distribution network means that specialist compressed air advice and service is always within easy reach. A team of over 80 service engineers operates across the country, to ensure maximum running efficiency and minimum downtime at its customers' sites.
In the United Kingdom, Atlas Copco also handles the sales and marketing of construction and mining equipment, portable compressors and electric power generators, industrial power tools and assembly systems – all backed up by a nationwide sales, distribution, service and maintenance network.
Atlas Copco is a world-leading provider of sustainable productivity solutions. The Group serves customers with innovative compressors, vacuum solutions and air treatment systems, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. Atlas Copco develops products and services focused on productivity, energy efficiency, safety and ergonomics. The company was founded in 1873, is based in Stockholm, Sweden, and has a global reach spanning more than 180 countries. In 2016, Atlas Copco had revenues of BSEK 101 (BEUR 11) and about 45 000 employees. Learn more at www.atlascopco.co.uk/compressorsuk.
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