7 July, 2022

Special 21st Anniversary Report - Eventful journey

12 December, 2017

mentality with regard to maintenance, but the technology is available if they care to take a look.”

Flexibility and configurability

Steve Sands, head of marketing and product management at Festo, has witnessed several dramatic changes during the past two decades. “From a technology point of view, we have added the option of electronic-based control, intelligence and communication across the actuators, valves and air supply functions,” he said. “Production has been streamed to allow high-volume optimised production costs on one hand and highly flexible, customisable and configurable products on another.”

David Hambrook, managing director of Glenthorpe Engineering Co Ltd., believes the utilisation of servo motors & encoders to replace some of the fluid power solutions has been one of the key technological developments over the past few years.

With regard to compressed air equipment, Roy Brooks, technical development officer at the British Compressed Society (BCAS), made the point that although the basis of the technologies is still the same and the designs have been based on sound and proven engineering over many decades, today’s products continue to evolve and offer more energy efficient, compact, low maintenance and reliable solutions. “This fits the needs of the 21st Century for lightweight but durable solutions,” he said.

Andy Jones, managing director at Mattei, commented that the improved efficiency of electric motors and, of course, the arrival of variable speed drives for compressors, have been at the forefront of changes with air compressors. He added that, more recently, permanent magnet motors have also been assisting with energy efficiency improvement. “But it hasn’t all been about energy, as there has also been an increasing focus on ensuring lowest cost of ownership over the last few years in particular,” he said. “This is becoming ever more crucial; therefore, compressor reliability and lower servicing costs are also important.”

Stefan Gunter, sales director at Abdex believes being flexible and considering new products is always critical to not getting left behind. “We always maintain close relationships with our suppliers to ensure that we have information on all the latest products,” he explained. Gunter also made the point that because many distributors operate on low margins it is important for manufacturers to support their distributors in the most effective way possible. He sees it as teamwork.

Total cost of ownership

Andrew Power, Northern/Eastern European and CIS regional manager at Gardner Denver, believes the key drivers over the past two decades are an increased focus on the energy efficiency of systems and how this impacts on the total cost of ownership. He made the point that UK industry uses over 20TWh of electricity to compress air each year, equivalent to the output of four power stations and over 8.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions (Ref: The Carbon Trust, Compressed air: Opportunities for business). “As a result, the emphasis on high-quality energy and performance at a cost-effective price has only increased as a key consideration for businesses over the past two decades,” he said. With BCAS introducing BS ISO 11011 – which has now been adopted as IS ISO 11011 – assessing the energy efficiency of a compressed air technology, Power stressed that overall system performance is now being held to greater account than ever before.

Ken Revell, business line manager sales & marketing for Atlas Copco’s Compressor Technique Service Division, commented that advancement in technology of air element design, inverters and electric motors have made possible huge leaps in energy efficiency of air compressors. “Combine this with accurate control and air generation is controlled more accurately and thus more efficiently,” he remarked. “Once generated, the air can now be distributed throughout the

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