Energy Efficient Compressed Air System Saves Pharma Company €19K Annually

“Tell us how we can make our compressed air system more efficient, what will it cost and how much we can save on energy without negatively effecting air quality and reliability?” That was the brief given by Davis Botta and Wayne Barrett at Recordati Ltd to three potential vendors for a proposed new compressed air system.

Cork-based Recordati is a European specialty pharmaceutical group dedicated to partnering, discovering and developing innovative, value-added products that improve quality of life and help people to enjoy longer, healthier and more productive lives.

At the time, the company had two Ingersoll Rand Fixed Speed Oil Free Compressors (Duty / Standby) and an Ingersoll Rand Desiccant Dryer/Filter Package which were installed by O’Neill Industrial in 1998 when the factory was built.

“We were extremely happy with the quality and reliability of the equipment as well as the excellent technical support provided by O’Neill Industrial on the existing equipment,” explained Wayne Barrett, Maintenance Manager, Recordati. “However, we realised it was time to update our compressed air system and achieve greater efficiencies. We knew that compressed air has a big impact on energy costs and carbon emissions.”

In order to ensure they got the best overall package rather than simply replacing like with like, Recordati invited a number of potential vendors to survey the existing system and submit proposals based on their findings. O’Neill Industrial was one of them.

Austin O’Neill at O’Neill Industrial, an Ingersoll Rand distributor since 1970, explains how the company approached its recommended solution:

“Although we had a long and successful relationship with Recordati going back 17 years, we knew we needed to be Best-in-Class if we were to be the successful vendor on this occasion. We started by looking at the service histories of the existing equipment to see if system improvements alone could deliver the results required.  But, we realised from the number of off-loaded running hours on the machines that the compressors were possibly oversized and, therefore, inefficient. However, we decided to recommend one of the existing compressors be used as a standby unit. Step two was to conduct a full system audit in order to correctly size a new system and accurately predict energy savings”.

O’Neill’s carried out the compressed air audit over a period of one week using their Airleader Portable Monitoring System. The unit was placed in the compressor room where it was connected to a 220v temporary power supply, an Ampere clamp was attached to the main motor input power cable of each compressor unit to be monitored and a pressure transducer, which is part of the Airleader kit, was fitted to the air receiver.  A survey report was subsequently generated, giving O’Neill Industrial the necessary data to inform their proposed new system solution as well as accurately calculating the potential energy savings.

Central to O’Neill’s proposed solution was the Ingergsoll Rand Nirvana Oil Free Air Compressor because of its proven reliability, efficient performance and its unique Ultracoat process.

Austin O’Neill explains, “Compressor rotors take a beating. Over time their surfaces can deteriorate, making rotors increasingly susceptible to compressed air impurities and temperature fluctuation, which lead to reduced efficiency, decreased air purity, and compressor failure. Ingersoll Rand eliminates this problem with UltraCoat.”

UltraCoat is an advanced rotor and housing protection process that ensures durable coating, with unmatched adhesion and temperature resistance. The oil-free rotor and housing is specially prepared, creating a surface texture to which the UltraCoat micro-coating bonds with the tightest, longest-lasting grip possible. Stainless-steel and aluminum piping is used to link the compressor’s intercooler with the stainless-steel second stage rotors. This way, condensation during the cooling process won’t cause corrosion or rust, further extending the life of the UltraCoat coating and rotors. Ultimately, UltraCoat delivers greater reliability in performance and air quality, rotor longevity, increased uptime, and reduced energy costs.

O’Neill’s also recommended replacing Recordati’s existing Desiccant Air Dryer with a unit that would match the Air Compressor in terms of efficiency.  The new dryer offered a state-of-the-art Energy Management System (EMS) that maximises energy efficiency while maintaining a constant dew point. By using a humidity sensor to continuously monitor the dew point, EMS minimises the compressed air used in regeneration

The selection process was thorough.

“When we looked at the audit and survey report from O’Neill Industrial we were very encouraged,” said Davis Botta, Production Manager, Recordati. “We scrutinised the report and asked a lot of questions before being satisfied that the data was correct and the predicted energy savings could be realised. Once we had the hard data we could make a technical comparison between the three potential Vendor Packages.”

With reliability, performance and energy efficiency high on the agenda, Recordati wanted to choose the most efficient compressor available rather than the cheapest one and ensure it matched production processes.  So the company compared the bids under three headings; efficiency, maintenance costs and capital cost and then reviewed the lifecycle cost for the three proposals.

Wayne Barrett, who analysed the bids, explained, “We spent quite some time comparing the tenders.  In the end the decision was relatively easy.  The O’Neill – Ingersoll Rand offer rated best in all three categories. This, combined with the fact that we had had a very successful long term relationship with O’Neill Industrial, gave us added peace of mind.”

“The Ingersoll Nirvana Oil Free Air Compressor really is first class – particularly when it comes to energy efficiency and reliability.  It has been designed with engineering operators in mind – particularly those focused on energy savings. So when we submitted our proposal we felt confident that we would compare favourably,” noted Austin O’Neill.

At this stage, Recordati knew the capital cost of the equipment and the maintenance costs as they had opted for an Ingersoll 5 year Select Care Programme. But the energy savings that would ensue, a big driver for the whole project, could only truly be confirmed once the system was in operation.

Davis Botta admitted, “There is always a certain nervousness at this stage of any project. However, we needn’t have worried. The system slightly exceeded expectations by delivering €17,000 per annum in energy savings and with our fixed price Select Care Contract we have total savings of just over €19,000 per annum. The project from our point of view has been a massive success.”

Austin O’Neill noted, “Quite often the initial outlay is a small percentage of the lifetime costs of an installation. If sized correctly, a compressor could pay for itself in a relatively short space of time by reducing energy consumption.”

“To have a customer for 17 years and then to get this type of endorsement for our product, our service and our company as a whole, is great for our brand and for us as individuals,” concluded Austin O’Neill.