25 May, 2020

On-site nitrogen generation helps Advance Engineering cut costs

06 December, 2019

Metal fabrication firm Advance Engineering has invested in an Atlas Copco on-site nitrogen generation system to ensure the quality of its laser-cutting operation, increase output and make substantial cost savings when set against delivered bottled gas supplies. The system was supplied by Atlas Copco’s premier distributor, Anglian Compressors & Equipment Ltd.

The broad range of output and engineering services supplied from the Kings Lynn-based company’s 1250 sq m workshop is directed primarily towards the food processing industry. Apart from batch component machining capability and custom engineered products, it also covers pipework installations and on-site maintenance. But the company’s growth area is in fabrication services, which employs its skilled work force in sub-contract laser cutting and metal folding operations. It was to expand this capability that the decision was made to invest in new production equipment and to seek a more economic source for the supply of nitrogen gas.

As Sam Canfor, Advance Engineering’s Profile Manager explained: “We were successful in securing new equipment funding. It was delivered by the new Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership under the government’s Growing Business Fund whose grants cover up to 20% of total project costs for local companies like ourselves who want to grow and create new jobs.”

The importance of purity

Laser-cutting metal, particularly stainless steel, relies on a supply of nitrogen gas as a blanket to prevent burning during the process. Purity of the gas is an important factor in overcoming the tendency for discolouration of laser-cut edges and to provide a high-quality finish. Besides these technical considerations for Advance Engineering’s expansion project, it was equally important to achieve savings on the cost of delivered bottled nitrogen supplies; which was averaging close to £1500 per week.

After investigating all the available options, managing director Rob High and Sam Canfor decided that installing on-site nitrogen generation was the answer to both needs. It would deliver significant cost savings, maintain supply independence and ensure a continuous, reliable source of high purity nitrogen.

Anglian Compressors provided the solution by installing an all-in-one nitrogen generation assembly. The compact Atlas Copco Nitrogen N2 8 skid package comes complete with a GA VSD+ FF full-feature, rotary screw compressor, an NGP+ nitrogen generator, air and nitrogen receivers, plus a booster, dryers and filters, all fully integrated into one pre-commissioned skid unit. This true plug-and-play system’s 300-bar output of 99.99 per cent pure nitrogen, at the rate of 38 Nm3/h, can be switched either to receiver storage or high-pressure bottling in its 16-cylinder rack.

Additionally, the unit’s energy efficient components, including a VSD+ permanent motor drive and NGP+ generator technologies, are claimed to be able to offer more than 50% cost savings in comparison with conventional on-site generation solutions. The generator’s low-volume, high quality absorbent medium also provides optimum capacity to produce the nitrogen.


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