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Energy costs for the operation of a 90kW rotary compressor at Albion Automotive have fallen by GBP14,000 per year after Glaston Compressor Services fitted a Vacon NXS variable speed drive controller.

The drive, which replaces the existing single-speed starter, works in conjunction with a compressor management system developed by Glaston.

This is arranged to ensure that the output of the compressor always matches the instantaneous demand for compressed air.

Glaston has been responsible for supplying and maintaining energy efficient HPC compressors at the Albion Automotive site since 1996 and, on the basis of its experience elsewhere, the company knew that fitting a Vacon variable speed drive would yield substantial energy savings.

In order to quantify the savings that would be made possible by fitting the Vacon drive, and to make a business case for Albion Automotive to invest in the upgrade, a free, detailed energy survey was carried out at the site.

The findings initially indicated that the new drive would provide savings of GBP7,000 per year, against a total cost for the project of around GBP12,000.

With the prospect of payback in less than two years, Albion Automotive decided to proceed.

The installation went smoothly, with minimal disruption to the operation of the compressor installation.

In addition to the anticipated energy savings resulting from continuously matching the operating speed of the compressor to the instantaneous load, it also proved possible to make further savings by reducing the nominal operating pressure of the installation.

The minimum acceptable delivery pressure for the production plant at Albion Automotive is 6 bar.

In the past, the installation has been operated at a nominal pressure of 7 to 7.5 bar to ensure that, even under conditions of maximum peak demand, the delivery pressure never fell below the required minimum.

With the more precise and responsive control achieved by the Vacon drive system, the nominal delivery pressure can now be reduced to just 6.05 bar, with confidence that the actual pressure in the installation will never fall below the 6 bar limit.

As a result of this reduction, and a number of other minor energy saving adaptations made by Glaston, the total cost savings increased from the forecast GBP7,000 to GBP14,000 per year.

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