More and more companies are realizing that “going green” is not just the right thing to do but also makes sense financially. However, this often raises the question whether switching to environment-friendly equipment and production processes can ensure quality.
For businesses that have to meet extremely high standards, it is a valid question. Take, for example, clean rooms in pharmaceutical production. Here, ensuring that a sufficient quality is maintained is much more important than using the most environment-friendly equipment, and green technology should only be employed if it guarantees that final products are not compromised.
Quality matters greatly when it comes to compressed air. Because the intake air is never totally clean, and because many compressors use oil or other lubricants, the generated compressed air may include moisture, oil and dust particles.
While this untreated air is sufficient for some applications, such as the inflation of a tire, many others require high-quality, purer air – especially those where the compressed air is actually in contact with the final product. That means the contaminants have to be removed prior to the air’s use.
Food is the perfect example for why this is necessary. Obviously, the air quality of the compressed air for food production needs to be outstanding to prevent contaminants from getting into the end products. That is why the industry is subject to strict quality standards, such as ISO 22000. Companies that are ISO 22000-certified have demonstrated a commitment to safe food and beverage production – from the field to the consumer’s plate.
However, contaminated air may not just harm end products but also downstream equipment. This, in turn, can lead to shorter service lives, downtimes and/or costly repairs.
To achieve a high air quality, premium equipment is needed. An oil-free compressor is required to ensure that oil particles do not contaminate the air. Choose oil-free compressors that are ISO 8573-1 Class 0 certified, producing air that is absolutely free of oil vapors, aerosols and other contaminants. A dryer is used for eliminating moisture and filters may be installed to remove dust particles.
So the question is whether “green” versions of this equipment can deliver a sufficient quantity and quality of compressed air. Or are today’s environment-friendly compressors and dryers simply not good enough yet to get the job done?
Fortunately, green compressed air systems are far ahead of the curve compared to other type of products with regard to being able to deliver top quality.
A variable speed drive (VSD) compressor from Atlas Copco, for example, will reliably deliver top quality air while lowering energy consumption by an average of 50%. Even better, the company’s VSD dryers are not only more energy-efficient than the previous “greenest” product on the market, it also consistently supplies class 4 purity air. That is a major difference to its fixed-speed competitors, which are not only less energy-efficient but also provide compressed air that fluctuates by up to two purity classes.
Atlas Copco’s commitment to air quality goes further. It became the first compressor manufacturer to be awarded an ISO 22000 certification for its oil-free air division production facility in Antwerp, Belgium, which means the compressors made there were designed and assembled in a controlled, clean and safe environment.
So, while it is true that some green products are not yet up to par compared to the products they hope to replace, this does not hold true for compressed air equipment.
In addition to offering many other advantages, such as cost savings, they are more than able to produce sufficient quantities of extremely pure, high-quality air for any application.