MechChem Africa

Atlas Copco’s Ian Ainsworth and Pieter van Wyk introduce 12 innovations launched at the company’s ‘Smart Air Days’ Oil-free Air and Compressor Technique Service sales conference in Antwerp earlier this year.

“Ian and I attended the excellent ‘Smart Air Days’ product launch event in Belgium during April to find out about the latest developments in our product range. Atlas Copco Compressor Technique is no longer simply selling compressors. We now talk about Smart Air Solutions and we strive to offer compressed air at the point of use that represents the lowest total cost of ownership (TCO) possible.

Atlas Copco Smart Air Solutions rotary dryer“Compressed air is expensive in terms of energy, which makes the electricity cost from the utility a significant component of the TCO. So anything we can do to make our solutions more energy efficient will reduce this cost significantly,” Van Wyk begins.

Atlas Copco’s Smart Air Solutions aims to reduce TCO through component and machine optimisation initiatives in three areas: reliability, energy efficiency and serviceability.

“The reliability and quality of our equipment has long been a given, but we have been tracking every component replaced during a service to give us a realistic indication of life expectancy. Using this information, we have been able to improve key components to extend service intervals and improve reliability. The new range includes several of these upgraded components, which ensure longer mean times between failure (MTBF),” explains Ainsworth.

From an energy efficiency perspective, Van Wyk points out that every initiative that reduces the pressure losses on a compressed air solution by 1.0 bar reduces energy consumption by 7%. “This is one of the realities that have been driving Atlas Copco designers towards this new range,” he notes.

By developing and using more efficient filters for the internals of the compressor, for example, Atlas Copco has further reduced the internal pressure losses and so improved energy efficiency. “Also, though, the piping design has been completely redone so as to minimise friction and pressure losses. With these new innovations, we have taken a product that is already very efficient and squeezed every last drop of efficiency from them,” Van Wyk notes, adding that the specific energy requirements and SER on the new Atlas Copco ZR and ZT oil-free compressors are market leading.

The third driver was to improve serviceability. “By reducing the number of actual hours needed to service a machine, we save on TCOs for our customers and make it easier for our own service technicians,” continues Ainsworth.

Components inside the new compressors have been made much easier to replace, which reduces the downtime associated with servicing and leads to better utilisation and lower net costs.

“When I looked into the new machines, I was amazed by how accessible the internal components were. The old oil separator unit, for example, used to be one big filter basket, which was difficult and messy to remove. Now we have these beautiful and simple cartridges that can simply be unscrewed and quickly replaced, without any mess or trouble – and all of the drains and internal pipe connections have also been looked at to make sure our service technicians can complete service or repair tasks quickly and easily,” he says.

Describing some of the new compressors, Van Wyk first lifts out the new GA90+ to 160+, which all use the new VSD+ motor drives. “The latest air compressor in Atlas Copco’s smart AIR solutions portfolio, the GA 90+ to 160 (VSD+) oil-injected screw compressor range, is designed for reduced energy consumption and ease of installation and service. It features state-of-the-art compression elements with Smart Injection technology coupled with highly efficient oil-cooled IE4 and IE5 motors that require no service interventions.

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