History of VSD Compressors

Anglian Compressors are proud to be a premier distributor for Atlas Copco. Our partnership has tracked the steady improvement in air compressor technology as it has outgrown fixed speed drive air compressors, and graduated to newer, better-performing variable speed drives.

Atlas Copco, Early Adopter of Variable Speed Drives

Atlas Copco was one of the early adopters of variable speed drive technology, with the first VSD compressor being released to the market in 1994. As such, it’s taken a leadership position in the continued development of high-quality air compressor technologies.

Working as a high-profile distributor, we’ve harnessed the improving capabilities of their equipment to maximise the benefit for our customers.

Variable Speed Drives Over Fixed Speed Air Compressors

As we previously covered in a VSD blog guide, Atlas Copco’s development of variable speed drives (VSD), in its first iteration, brought new opportunities to the market.

Fixed Speed Compressors

Fixed speed drive air compressors performed well when they always ran at full power. However, they become largely energy inefficient at lower pressure levels, or only when sporadically required.

Unfortunately, when not fully utilised, more air is produced than needed. The internal pressure then steadily climbs. To safely regulate a fixed speed compressor, it becomes necessary to periodically offload the pressure by unloading it. The ‘blowdown’ – the reduction in pressure levels – doesn’t decline to zero though. As such, they waste energy due to the need to keep the fixed speed compressor running.

Fixed speed compressors aren’t usually stopped when they’re not needed. Not only due to the time-consuming offloading process, but also because there’s a practical limit on how many times the motor can be started and stopped, in the same hour, without damaging it.

Variable Speed Compressors

Fortunately, the variable speed drive compressor from Atlas Copco changed the game!

Smaller jobs could be performed where a VSD compressor could be turned on, set to the appropriate BAR pressure level, and the volume of compressed air required, and then it spins immediately into action.

The first iteration of Atlas Copco VSD compressors reduced energy consumption by up to 35% for many of our customers. This represented some of the energy savings from not needing to always keep the equipment operational. Peak energy spikes were avoided, too, reducing potential extra charges from the energy company.

Four More VSD Iterations Followed from Atlas Copco

We’ve worked as a premier distributor for Atlas Copco since the 70s. Subsequently, we’ve followed their progress from the earliest VSD air compressor through multiple versions over the decades.

While other manufacturers eventually produced competing VSD compressors, their late arrival has resulted in only one or two specification changes for technological improvements. As a result, they’re still playing catch-up.

VSD+ Get Released

VSD+ air compressors followed the initial VSDs. These offered up to 50% energy savings through further improvements in operational efficiencies.

Customers began to see the benefits of zero unload times and higher consistency in air pressure delivery to their manufacturing equipment. Further refinements followed across various models until the current VSDˢ range was released.

VSDˢ Air Compressors Raise the Bar Again

VSDˢ is the latest compressor range from Atlas Copco. These machines can provide energy savings of up to 60%. They can be controlled either using the Elektronikon Touch display or via the SMARTLINK mobile app to monitor status and performance in real-time.

Condensation removal from the compressor system is one of the latest innovations to come from VSDˢ models. This ensures the oil operates at it’s optimum temperature zone, to prevent water build up in the oil, increasing the risk of breakdowns.

A Boost Flow mode offers temporarily higher-than-normal performance when needed too. OPC UA compatibility – to allow manufacturing equipment to communicate together seamlessly – is possible as well. Additionally, as many as 6 air compressors are manageable across a single compressed air network, using an equaliser (an optional extra) for more sizable installations.

While competitors are still mostly offering only 35% potential energy savings from their VSD models, the latest VSDˢ compressors from Atlas Copco can reach an optimal 60% energy saved. Furthermore, they recapture as much as 80% of the generated heat, to avoid dispersing it inside the manufacturing plant.

A Mini Review of the Atlas Copco GA 22-37 VSDˢ Air Compressor

Designed to satisfy the latest compressed air demands for advanced manufacturing facilities, the GA 22-37 VSDˢ ticks many boxes. The current VSDˢ range includes four models from GA 22 to GA 37.

The latest range of VSD air compressors reduces energy consumption further. While VSD+ compressors boasted up to 50% energy reduction, the GA 22-37 optimises this to as high as 60 percent. It uses resources with greater care to lower emissions too, while capturing over three-quarters of any heat produced.

The newly designed motor goes beyond the IES2 (EN 50598) industry standard for drive efficiency. Energy usage is reduced thanks to the all-new Neos Next inverter. Additionally, the entire compressor unit sits on a small platform and doesn’t usually exceed 63 decibels, making it acceptable to work close to production level.

Connectivity is critical to manufacturing equipment. The Elektronikon Touch control system allows operators to control and manage performance. There are additional systems available to manage multiple compressors together. The OPC UA communication protocol is supported, too. Also, the SMARTLINK system brings mobile apps into the air compressor environment, allowing operators to control and review performance data remotely.

Sustainable compressed air delivery is provided from within 4 to 13 BAR with the lowest ever percentage pressure variance. At 4 BAR, a minimum of 15 litres of compressed air is produced per second, with a maximum of 84 litres at the top end. With increased BAR pressure levels, a smaller volume of compressed air is produced per second; at 13 BAR, the maximum production is 55.4 litres per second.

Air pressure level consistency is also important. Whereas lesser variable speed drive manufacturers might accept wider variances in air pressure, the newest VSDˢ operates with minimal variances.

For more demanding production environments, the GA 26, 30 & 37 VSDˢ compressors offer higher compressed air capacities compared to the GA-22 VSDˢ, particularly at higher pressure levels.

History of VSD Compressors
History of VSD Compressors

Anglian Compressors is Here to Help

Purchasing VSD air compressor technologies is a process, rather than an instantaneous business decision. Our team at Anglian Compressors completely understands this reality.

We provide air audits to review your existing air compressors to determine whether new variable speed drive compressors could save your company money over the equipment’s lifespan. 

With decades of experience in the air compressor market, we’re proud to be experts on the subject.

Get in touch so that we can discuss your site needs together.