MRO Magazine

Focus on Compressed Air Systems


This month, MRO is looking at compressed air systems as its cover feature. As such, we reached out to Kaeser Compressors Canada Inc. to find out what customers think are the most important aspects of a compressed air system, how systems will change in the future, and if more technologically advanced machines are better than traditional ones.

MRO spoke with President and General Manager of Kaeser Compressors Canada, Harold Wagenknecht, about those compressed air systems topics, and how Kaeser products differ in the marketplace.

Kaeser Kompressoren recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, while Kaeser Compressors Canada Inc., celebrated its 25th anniversary. Founded by Carl Kaeser Sr., in 1919, the company has grown to operate in over 140 countries, employ over 6,700 people, and manufacture compressors and compressed air systems for the global market.

MRO: What do your customers say is the most important aspect of their compressed air system?

Wagenknecht: Surveys place reliability first, followed by energy efficiency, local service support, maintenance friendliness, and space requirements. Many customers like the low noise of newer compressed air systems (there are still quite a few “open/no sound cabinet” units installed). Low sound levels open the possibility to install the units in the work areas if needed.

MRO: What are the main advantages of having a more technologically advanced system, compared to a traditional system?

Wagenknecht: It is much more efficient, with better (and more consistent) air quality and more feedback (operational data) from the compressed air system (all components). Better projection of maintenance requirements based on that particular system and not based on a maintenance schedule are developed to cover all systems of a particular HP.

MRO: How do you see compressed air systems changing in the near and long term?

Wagenknecht: Compressed air systems need to be designed correctly (if new), or analyzed. They need to be efficient, reliable, and durable; flexible to adjust to changing demands; and maintenance friendly.

MRO: What are some of the advancements in the space that you see coming in the future?

Wagenknecht: Connectivity and data acquisition of all components to customize operation and maintenance.

MRO: Break down some products that Kaeser offers.

Wagenknecht: Kaeser Compressors is more than just products. A big part of what Kaeser does is consulting (before, during, and after the sale) and after-sale service. Typical steps Kaeser and our distributors take are consulting with clients to perform a thorough and factbased analysis of their existing system using Air Demand Analysis (ADA), and developing a customized solution through Kaeser Energy Savings Software (KESS), which selects the most efficient compressed air system components based on the acquired ADA data. This solution predicts the energy consumption and savings, which are needed to receive financial incentives from various hydro companies (program depends on province). Depending on the customer’s needs (based on the ADA), we select the following:

Compressors: Lubricated, oil-free and sizing.

Dryers: Refrigerated (integrated into compressors, stand alone, high pressure, high inlet temperature) for above freezing applications (90 per cent plus), desiccant dryers for applications in temperatures as low as -100°F (heated, non-heated, heat of compression). Membrane dryers with variable dew points typically used for point-of-use applications.

Filtration products: Pressure drop at rated operating conditions, separation efficiency, and ability to hold/carry large amounts of contaminants.

Drain products: Drains are the most overlooked, but a critical system component as they “discharge” (oily) condensate and particulates out of the system. Reliability and energy efficiency are critical, as an open drain wastes a tremendous amount of energy, and a stuck drain contaminates the compressed air systems. They must be able to communicate.

Air system charging valve: Very important but 99 per cent overlooked. This valve makes sure that on Monday morning when the system is depressurized, the clean air treatment system (dryers, filtration) is not overrun. Why? The air at ambient pressure (compared to 100 psig) is about eight times the volume/velocity and it will “overrun” the dryer and filtration/drains.

Piping products: Kaeser sells an aluminum-based piping system, designed to offer leak-free and low pressure drop during operation. This is very important, as leaks still account for about 35 per cent of compressed air consumption.

SAM 4.0: Tying all these components together (especially multiple compressors), Sigma Air Manager (SAM) 4.0 “master controller” is selecting the most efficient compressor combination for the actual current demand. The software is “self-learning” and picks from over 4,000 different scenarios in milliseconds. It further annunciates and records maintenance, precautionary, and shutdown messages. It also records 12 months of continuous operating data (including energy usage), providing valuable system performance data.

MRO: What makes your products unique in the marketplace?

Wagenknecht: They are engineered for efficiency and reliability and durability.

One example of Kaeser’s features on compressors is the Electronic Thermal Management valve, which determines the exact discharge temperature of the compressor based on ambient temperature. All possible due to our Sigma Control 2 controller, which is an industrial computer, monitoring, logging (up to 12 months) and controlling compressors. Also, dryers, drains, and more can be connected to SAM 4.0 to be monitored for performance and maintenance needs. MRO