New compressor helps Simba International meet production and environmental targets

An Atlas Copco VSD compressor, financed through a Carbon Trust loan, is a key element in a major refurbishment programme for UK agricultural equipment manufacturer, Simba International.

Compressed air is an essential productivity resource for Simba and is used in its shot blasting operations, spray booths, breathing masks and for air tools in the final assembly hall for its cultivation and seeding machines. The plant’s air demand can vary greatly meaning that Simba needs a compressor solution which enables it to meet this fluctuating demand without any loss of efficiency, whilst also offering the capacity for future expansion.

Indeed, prior to the installation of the Atlas Copco equipment, Simba was experiencing problems with its existing compressor installation following an expansion in production. Lack of reliability and the presence of water in the air net threatened quality standards and capital budgets were unavailable to replace the three existing compressors, one of which was only three years old.

Energy efficiency survey

Atlas Copco authorised distributor, Anglian Compressors, installed the new compressor equipment having carried out an energy efficiency survey which was then validated by The Carbon Trust and the loan approved. During the survey, Anglian Compressors had established that the existing compressors were too small to cope, but with the right replacement machines there could be potential for meeting demand and making significant energy savings.

The Atlas Copco iiTrak datalogging system was used to accurately log the air demand during a one week production cycle. The iiTrak data identified that a potential energy saving of 77,700kWh, equivalent to £7,770 per year, could be made by installing a single variable speed drive compressor. As a result of the estimated 42.29 tonnes per year reduction in CO2 emissions provided by the energy consumption savings, Anglian was able to assist Simba in applying for, and securing, an interest-free Carbon Trust loan, repayable over 48 months.

This financial assistance enabled Simba to purchase and install a new Atlas Copco GA75VSD FF variable speed drive compressor together with integrated DD / PD filters and an OSC355 condensate separator. The energy cost savings alone more than covered the Carbon Trust loan repayments and are projected to achieve payback in electricity savings alone within three years. In addition to the energy savings, replacing three compressors with just one is also expected to reduce the associated service and maintenance costs.

As Richard Hewitt, Sales Director of Anglian Compressors and Equipment explains: “Although energy savings tend to be calculated on a annual basis, we always encourage our customers to accept the fact that if the anticipated energy savings from new equipment offsets the actual loan repayments then, in reality, operating the new equipment means that they start saving from the very first month. They can see the benefits of their investment immediately.”

Optimum throughput

The new compressor installation is also helping the factory achieve optimum throughput, according to Colin Adams, Simba’s Managing Director: “The new system is more efficient and better controlled than its predecessors. It detects how much air we need, something that changes regularly throughout the day, and only takes the energy it needs to provide the requisite airflow. What’s more, it retains a reservoir of compressed air at all times, so ‘start up’ at the beginning of production is much quicker. Compressed air used to account for 40% of our total electricity bill. We expect to cut that significantly.”

Simba’s Production Manager Mick Cormack says the new compressor is already proving highly effective in ensuring constant supplies of air: “We are also using a new type of paint to coat our equipment, which offers a better quality of coverage and finish, as well as ensuring the machines are produced in an as environmentally friendly way as possible.”

Because the compressor incorporates an integrated refrigerant dryer and filters, the installation space required was also reduced. This enabled Anglian Compressors to install the GA compressor within the plant’s production area, thereby minimising pipework and installation costs. According to Colin Adams: “Anglian Compressors has been an excellent compressed air partner for us and has provided good advice and recommendations throughout the process. Our seven year fixed price servicing contract with Anglian Compressors ensures that the compressor is always looked after by the experts and means that we do not incur any unexpected costs.”

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