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PET compressors

An optimal hybrid PET air compressor installation

Choosing between a PET central air compressor or decentralized compressor installation

In order to manufacture as many PET bottles in as little time as possible, every part of the production process has to work smoothly. And that includes the PET air compressor system. Even the smallest problem can cause costly delays, increase cycle times or impact the quality of the PET bottles.

High-pressure compressed air plays an important role in the PET blow molding process. Until now, it has always been delivered to the point of use (i.e. the blow molding machine) in the same way:


A central PET air compressor (which can either be a high-pressure compressor or a low- or medium-pressure compressor with a high-pressure booster) is placed in a compressor room. From there, the compressed air is transported to the point of use via high-pressure pipes.

 

This is also referred to as a “centralized” air compressor installation. In many cases, especially when only low- or medium-pressure air is needed, this is the best approach. The reason is that a fully decentralized set-up with a decentralized air compressor at every point of use is not a feasible option for countless applications that need standard compressed air pressure.

 

Unfortunately, a centralized set-up and air compressor room design have some costly downsides for the manufacturers of PET bottles, especially as the blow molding pressure continues to decrease. In a centralized system, you can only have one pressure, dictated by the highest blowing pressure needed.

 

To cope with different blowing pressures, a decentralized set-up is the better choice. However, this would mean that every decentralized unit has to be sized for the maximum flow of every application. This could result in a very high investment cost.

(PET) air compressor installation, central air compressor

PET compressor plant set-up

Centralized vs decentralized compressor installations – why not a hybrid solution?

Now, there is also a better, less expensive hybrid solution: decentralizing part of the system.
We can offer a hybrid system installation with a booster near the point of use. Our boosters are designed specifically for this application.

Traditional boosters vibrate too much and are too loud to be installed near the blow molding machine. That means they would violate noise standards. Instead, they have to be placed in expensive sound-insulated compressor rooms.

But not our boosters, which are specially designed for PET bottle production. Thanks to their sound-protecting canopy, a frame and cylinder set-up to minimize vibrations, they can operate at an unprecedented low noise level and the lowest vibration level.

This hybrid system places a low- or medium-pressure PET air compressor in the centralized compressor room and puts the booster, which generates the required higher pressure of up to 40 bar, in the immediate proximity of the blow molding machine.

As a result, the high-pressure air would only be produced where it is needed, at the blow molding machine. Each high-pressure application gets the exact pressure it needs (rather than having one high-pressure flow tailored to the application with the highest pressure requirement). All other applications, e.g. regular pneumatic equipment, would get their lower pressure air from the central compressor room. This set-up can lower your costs significantly, starting with the reduction of high-pressure piping.

The benefits of a hybrid set-up

In a hybrid set-up, you don’t need many meters of expensive piping because the high-pressure air no longer has to come all the way from the compressor room. That alone can save you a lot of money. That’s because in most cases, high-pressure piping is made of stainless steel – and therefore very expensive. In fact, depending on where the compressor room is located, these high-pressure pipes may end up costing as much as or more than the PET air compressor itself!

In addition, the hybrid approach decreases your building costs, as you don’t need a large or second compressor room to house your booster.

Finally, by combining a booster with an Atlas Copco Variable Speed Drive (VSD) compressor, you can lower your energy expenses by up to 20%. In addition, a lower pressure drop in the compressed air system may also mean that you can manage with a smaller, less expensive compressor that uses less energy. And that will of course help you meet your environmental and sustainability goals.

Overall, you can greatly reduce your total cost of ownership with this hybrid PET bottle plant set-up. 

The Total Cost of Ownership for PET air compressors

For conventional compressors, the total cost of ownership (TCO) consists of the expenses for the compressor itself, energy costs and maintenance, whereby energy costs make up most of the total.

For PET bottle manufacturing plants, it is a bit more complicated. Here, the real TCO also consists of the building and installation costs, e.g. the cost for the high-pressure pipes, and the so-called “risk factor,” which essentially means the reliability of the system and the cost of downtime. The lower the risk factor, the less likely it is that the production will be disrupted and loss of income will be incurred.

In the case of Atlas Copco’s hybrid concept called ZD Flex, with a ZD compressor and booster, the real total cost of ownership is especially low because it not only reduces installation and energy expenses but also this risk factor. 

Read more on PET by clicking the articles below

The importance of correct PET air compressor sizing
The importance of correct PET air compressor sizing
The importance of correct PET air compressor sizing