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Vane compressor design stands convention on its head

01 March, 2003

Vane compressor design stands convention on its head

The compressor manufacturer CompAir has rethought the way that vane compressors are built and come up with a new design in which the compressor fits on top of a vertically mounted motor. The result, says the company, is a range of high-efficiency, low-maintenance vane compressors that need less than half the floor space of a conventional horizontal configuration.

CompAir, which was bought by a management team from its former owner Invensys last year, has reverted to the traditional Hydrovane brand name for the new range. The name had been dropped during Invensys` ownership.

"Our priority for developing this new range was to design a radically new compressor with fewer, more highly engineered, components," says Duncan Scott, managing director of CompAir`s vane compressor business.

Because the compressor rotor fits directly onto the motor shaft, there are no belts, pulleys or couplings to maintain or replace. Also, the risk of oil leaks has been reduced significantly by removing all gaskets from the design. The compressor is sealed using O-rings.

The new design has 30% fewer components than its predecessor and this is expected to boost reliability. CompAir is offering a five-year warrantee on the compressors. Other attractions include a 4dBA lowering of noise levels to around 66dBA, and a reduction of oil carry-over from 5ppm to 4ppm.

The new compressor, which will be made at CompAir`s Redditch plant, is also easier to assemble, with the compressor housing forming a "bucket" into which the components fit. It is almost impossible to get the assembly wrong, Scott maintains.

The new range consists of 14 models fitted with 4kW, 5.5kW and 7.5kW motors. It includes a high-efficiency 7.5kW model with an on-board inverter to match the motor speed to demand. Prices will be similar to existing models, which will be superseded eventually.

The new compressors made their public debut at the Hannover Fair in April. CompAir also launched several other models at the show.

The company`s managing director, Nick Sanders sees new products as a key to reviving CompAir`s fortunes. About 6% of turnover is currently being invested in new developments.

Other aspects of Sanders` strategy include strengthening CompaAir`s global presence and "getting the cost base right". This has included the closure of two plants, in the UK and the US, in the past year. As a result of these changes, "a new, more confident, CompAir is fighting its way back in a very difficult market," Sanders declares.

Sanders, who was originally brought in by Invensys 15 months ago "to fix the business and sell it", reports that he found "a lot of good things buried under some very big problems". CompAir`s customers, he adds, liked the company`s products but complained about poor aftercare. With his team, he is tackling these problems and has set a target of being able to deliver spare parts to anywhere in Europe within 24 hours.

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