2011 In Review: Air Compressor

New Air Compressor Air Compressor

Wair compressore did a ton of research on the purchase of an air compressor. We had been using a very large reciprocating style air compressor. It had a 10HP motor and an 80 gallon tank. Our filtration system left much to be longed for and our dryer required almost daily maintenance to keep it working properly. It was being heavily taxed with two pick and place systems that drew an enormous amount of air through their venturis (not a type of wine aerator. A venturi is a really ingenious piece of equipment. Here's a Wikipedia link describing how they work). This forced us to be able to use only one pick and place machine at a time, which as you can imagine, this limited our capacity quite a bit. On top of that, we wouldn't be able to add any more equipment to our facility without possibly over taxing our current air compressor.

So we began doing a little research and discovered that there are at least two big players in the air compressor market. Ingersoll-Rand as well as Sullair. We contacted distributors for each manufacturer. Air Compressor Engineering (A.C.E.) out of Westfield, MA and A&M out of Uxbridge, MA. ACE carries Ingersoll-Rand and A&M carries Sullair. After doing a ton of research we found that both companies were going to fit the bill for us quite well. Their products were very similar and we had a difficult time finding much differentiation between either one. At the end of the day A&M had a slightly better price but Ingersoll-Rand's footprint was slightly smaller. The footprint was important to us because right now we have a very limited amount of floor space. We explained our predicament to the salesmen at both companies and unfortunately for A&M there wasn't much they could do about the footprint. But changing the price wasn't too difficult for ACE. So at the end of the day we ended up purchasing a brand new air compressor from ACE, made by Ingersoll-Rand. And let me tell you, this is one beautiful piece of equipment.

We ordered a 10 HP rotary screw air compressor. (Link to IR's product page). It comes mounted on top of an 80 gallon "receiver" (tank) and is enclosed in an acoustic enclosure. The machine is very quiet. You can easily and comfortably speak over the noise it makes when the door is closed (which should will always be closed). We did not purchase the variable speed version. The price of which was far too out of our price range. But the on-load/off-load is perfect for us. We went ahead and plumbed in our old air compressor as well. This way we have the extra storage space which improves the air compressor's efficiency as well as allows us to perform maintenance on the IR air compressor and continue our manufacturing operation by running our old reciprocating air compressor.

ACE did an excellent job of delivering the machine on time. It came on an open bed truck so that we could easily use a fork lift to get it unloaded. Here's a quick video I shot to remember that day.

Our friends across the street welded up two beautiful stands for each air compressor so now we can easily use a pallet jack or fork lift to move the air compressors around. It's really handy.

 Air Compressor Stands

One of our goals with this new air compressor was to never worry about the quality of our air ever. So we made the investment in a very high quality inline filter and dryer. The dryer we purchased is basically an air conditioner that cools the compressed air down as it passes through which causes the air to condensate so that the dryer can collect the moisture and remove it before it gets to our equipment. We purchased a cycling dryer so that we could save energy. Otherwise the dryer would be running 24/7.

In order to reduce how much maintenance was required for this system we also decided to purchase electronic drain valves for each air compressor. These drains turn on for about 10 seconds every 45 minutes, expelling any water in the tank. There are a total of 5 drains in our system. One for each tank, one for the compressor itself, one for the air filter, and one for the dryer. Each drain is plumbed into something called a "Polysep". This is one sweet tool. Basically it uses centrifugal force and a very large filter to separate the oil from the water that gets expelled from the system. The water then fills up a small channel in the back with nothing but clean, sewer safe, water. From there we have a tube that runs down into a small 5 gallon bucket that we empty about once a week. It's a really nice setup.

Air Compressor Setup

All of the tubes you see are how the water gets passed from the system to the Polysep. The Polysep is that small cylinder to see hanging on the wall. The flexible gray air hose you see underneath our new air compressor is connected to our old air compressor. This way if we ever need to move our old air compressor we can just unhook the air hose and move it around, without interrupting production.

This was a huge improvement for WAi. We've been really pleased with IR as well as ACE. Now we never worry about our air quality or consumption. We have enough to last us a very long time.