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Compair Concretes Energy Savings For Charcon

02 October 2005

Leading compressed air specialist, CompAir, has delivered its promise to substantially decrease the energy costs of UK manufacturer, Charcon. Charcon, which manufactures hard landscaping products such as commercial block paving, flags, kerbs and drainage products for the UK construction industry, has seen savings of £7,000 a year at its Uffculme site in Devon since installing a L45SR speed regulated compressor from CompAir.

The factory's previous compressor was inefficient, extremely noisy and caused problems due to breakdowns. Mark Harris, process manager at Charcon, part or Aggregate Industries, recalled: The compressor was making so much noise that it was obvious high volumes of energy were being wasted.

We were also experiencing breakdowns and high maintenance costs so I called in our local CompAir distributor, A & T Services, to recommend a solution. A & T Services data-logged the old system over a number of weeks to pin-point the demands on the compressor and highlight the new equipment options available to Charcon.

Sales manager John Baker, who was responsible for the project, found that Charcon was wasting a large amount of energy through excessive noise and general equipment inefficiencies. The results of the logging identified the peaks and troughs of usage throughout the working week and allowed John to see exactly how the business was using its compressed air.

Commenting on the compressors at Charcon, John Baker said: The data-logging showed that the old system simply wasn't cost-effective. They had a fixed-speed compressor which was wasting energy as not all of the air produced was being used - we recommended a speed-regulated compressor which is much more efficient as it supplies air when and where demand dictates, keeping energy usage to a minimum.

Once I was able to demonstrate the substantial savings they could make with our software package they were really enthusiastic and we installed the new L45SR model. As it makes such a wide variety of pavement slabs, Charcon uses compressed air in a host of different applications. The L45SR compressor produces air that is plumbed into air bags and used to shape paving moulds, it is also used to convey powdered product to the relevant parts of the process and to power air rams which keep the concrete mixer doors closed, in order to keep concrete flowing.

As the business operates four 18 hour shifts over a five day week, reliability and continual process operation is vital to their success, so much so that during the fifth day of the working week, necessary maintenance is carried out. With this kind of operating cycle Charcon cannot afford to have a compressor out of action.

Reflecting on the use of compressed air, Mark Harris continued: It is very important for us to have a highly efficient compressor because we need it to work hard. As the old compressor was causing problems and wasting energy our business was beginning to suffer, especially when the compressor failed completely. In these cases the work still needed to be done, and the business process failure is very expensive as overtime has to be paid to ensure every job was completed on time.

Although we budgeted for this expense, it was taking money straight from our bottom line, which no business can afford. The speed regulated compressor from CompAir is perfect for us because it has the ability to vary the air demand throughout the day or week depending on the process. We purposely chose the L45SR because it gave us room for growth; we currently use only 60 per cent of its full capabilities. We can therefore expand the company and have a higher capacity, which is important for us because like everyone in business, we aim to be flexible and able to respond to demand.

The CompAir L45SR compressor is part of the L Series of rotary screw compressors incorporating a variable speed switched reluctance drive system* of outstanding efficiency; offering the ability to precisely match power consumption with air demand. Easy to install, the compressor's small installation footprint, lifting slots and vertical air discharge simplify installation.

Furthermore, where conventional motor drive systems require a high starting peak current, the L45SR is able to start without any increase in power supply above normal running levels, reducing stress on the site's power supply and eliminating peak current energy cost penalties.

Commenting on the use of the L45SR by Charcon, Steve Downes of CompAir said: The significant energy savings realised by Charcon reinforces the flexibility and many benefits of our rotary screw compressors. Having seen a saving of £7,000, the L45SR is clearly paying back the investment that the company has made and more importantly it is ensuring the business can operate without the fear of breakdown.

As the product also comes with an Assure warranty, Charcon has the reassurance that their maintenance costs will be significantly reduced. With added benefits of not requiring any manpower and ease of installation and use, it is clear that the L45SR has and will prove to be a worthy investment for Charcon and any other companies looking to make such energy savings.

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