So you’ve come to the decision that you need a new industrial air compressor. Ontario accounts for 46% of the manufacturing GDP in Canada in 2017(A). You sit down at your computer and begin doing your research. You are shocked to realize that there are as many compressor manufacturers as there are colors of the rainbow! Red ones, green ones, grey ones, yellow ones. The information can be overwhelming. One compressor says it’s the best. The other says it’s the world’s finest. Yet another says it’s the industry leader in compressed air.
How do you filter through the information to determine what is the best screw compressor for you?
The purchase, operation and maintenance of a compressed air system in Canada presents some unique challenges. These include:
- Seasonal weather – the four seasons in Canada mean that your compressed air system will need to run reliably on the hot humid days of summer as well as the cold, subzero days of winter. Your compressed air system must be able to perform in all ambient conditions present in Canada
- Cost of electricity – with the current cost of electricity you can be sure that the initial purchase price of your new compressed air system is not going to be the largest expense of running your production. Typically, operating costs dwarf the initial capital cost of acquisition and must be factored into your purchasing decision
- Retrofit and incentive programs – many federal and provincial agencies offer financial incentives to customers that can show that their new or expanded compressed air system can provide equal compressed air with reduced energy consumption. These programs are funded from your regular electrical bills so the money is yours. Use it or lose it!
- Voltage in Canada – in most manufacturing facilities in Canada, your available power will be 575/3/60. This is not the standard voltage in many other parts of the world – including where your compressor is likely produced. In the United States, for example, the standard voltage is 460/3/60. This is important to clarify otherwise you will be wasting power and money on a transformer
Now that we have analyzed the challenges of running your new compressor system, we can move to the next step of our analysis. There are many ways to measure the benefits of the purchase of a new air compressor in Canada:
- Energy efficiency – with the cost of electricity, it is important to investigate the operating costs of any new compressor. CAGI datasheets are a great way to baseline energy efficiency at different operating pressures
- Reliability – this can include the quality of workmanship, extended warranty coverage, local screw compressor service and design and features of the compressor
- Floor space Requirement – in any manufacturing facility, floor space is at a premium so depending on the flexibility of the compressor, you may be able to install in an outdoor container or on a mezzanine to free up production floor space
- After Sales service – your new air compressor experience BEGINS when you turn on the machine for the first time. Availability of support after commissioning is a critical factor that must be taken into consideration. Rental compressors, after hours service response time and availability of parts are all equally important
- Industry 4.0 and Cloud Compressor Monitoring – is your new compressor system Industry 4.0 ready? There have been significant advances in the ability to connect, communicate and log warnings, alarms and important variables that affect your compressor system’s performance. In the past, you would get a call in the middle of the night from a compressor operator saying the system is down. That was then – this is now. Using cloud compressor monitoring, you can set high and low limits for conditions like ambient temperature, warnings and even get emails for alarms. Having this information available and at your fingertips allows you to predict and rectify issues before they become a problem as opposed to reacting post shutdown. A powerful tool in your productivity toolbox!
Remember to take your time when reviewing potential compressor manufacturers and ensure that you are comparing apples to apples. There are more and more compressor companies entering the marketplace. It’s up to you to make sure that you do your homework and select a system that will provide you with years of efficiency and reliability.