Key to any successful aluminium processing plant is the reliable supply of air, gas and power. Each plant requires different air, gas and power needs and with so many options on the market, choosing the right compressor, blower and generator equipment can be challenging.
According to David Green, Caps Australia's General Manager Sales and Marketing, consulting and plant engineers need to take into account a number of criteria when purchasing compressors, blowers and generators for aluminium manufacturing operations.
Each plant has different air quality, capacity and pressure requirements and it is a matter of matching these requirements with the right compressor. Numerous centrifugal as well as rotary screw air compressors are available for the main plants air requirements. And a range of oil injected rotary screw compressors is available for 'pot line' applications during the smelting process.
This is true also for blowers and generators. The pneumatic conveying of feed materials for aluminium smelting operations can be supplied by a range of either dedicated low pressure positive displacement or multi-stage centrifugal air blowers for lean phase operations up to 1.2 bar. Low-pressure compressors can be used in dense phase applications when air pressures above 1.2 bars are required, depending on the material being conveyed.
When choosing compressors, blowers and generators, engineers should take into account not only the plant's immediate needs but also its long-term requirements, as additional capacity is usually necessary in the future.
Engineers should also examine the initial investment cost of the equipment and its total lifecycle cost. Often the upfront cost of the right piece of equipment for the plant can seem excessive and on this basis a cheaper and less appropriate option may be chosen. However, when the initial cost is examined in light of the equipment's total lifecycle costs and savings generated, it may offer better value in the long term.
Energy efficiency is also key to any decision taken on blowers, generators and compressors. According to David, the energy efficiency levels across the range of equipment and between brands vary enormously. Engineers should look closely at the power consumption of the equipment and any energy savings it generates.
Proven reliability is also a critical factor. The blowers and compressors used by aluminium plants are often in operation 24 x 7 and placed in hot and dusty environments. Such conditions can be detrimental to equipment operation and any down time will cost plants significant amounts in lost productivity.
After sales support and service should also be central to any purchasing decision made on blowers, compressors and generators. Engineers should consider partnering with firms that can offer local preventative maintenance and service activities.
Caps Australia has been providing compressed air, gas and standby power solutions to industry for over 28 years. Caps Australia represents global brands including Ingersoll Rand air compressors, Robuschi and Gardner Denver blowers and SDMO/Kohler power generators.
Caps Australia can package tailored solutions to match customer needs using its own project and manufacturing resources. This ensures that customers benefit from compressor, generator and blower proposals that offer maximum productivity and long-term reliability while balancing initial investments and total lifecycle costs.