Productivity Improved by Compressed Air and Nitrogen System

With the help of a centralised and remotely monitored compressed air and nitrogen system from Atlas Copco. Sika Limited has almost halved its batch transfer time. The system, installed and serviced by Atlas Copco subsidiary Compressor Engineering, is proving essential in the safe and efficient production procedures at the company’s manufacturing facility in Preston, Lancashire. Furthermore, it has allowed full centralisation between adjacent plant installations and provided capacity for expansion.

Part of the global Sika Group, Sika Limited specialises in the manufacture and supply of chemical-based products serving construction and industrial markets. In Sika’s production processes the batch mixing procedure for large volumes of liquid materials is conducted under vacuum in vessels with capacities in excess of 5,000 litres. Batch transfer operations involve removing the vacuum under a nitrogen atmosphere in equally large volumes. The new utilities system, with increased capacity, allows more rapid generation and availability of the blanketing gas. This ultimately reduces batch transfer times and virtually halves the transfer cycle duration; thus, improving productivity and the energy efficiency of the system.

The equipment upgrade programme was initiated after a review of the performance of the site’s entire compressed air and nitrogen system with a view to improving productivity. Following this internal assessment, it was decided that the original installation lacked the capacity to meet peak production demand in the future, with upgrades to the existing equipment deemed to be impractical due to the unavailability of spare parts. The fact that two separate compressor systems were competing with each other to achieve the required demand was also judged to be inefficient from an energy management perspective.

Following a decision to look for a new provider, responsibility for maintaining the existing system was transferred to Compressor Engineering who conducted an extensive iiTrak peak performance and flow monitoring exercise to determine the best solution for Sika’s production needs. The audit revealed the logical course of action was to centralise the two plant supplies and to replace all of the existing units.

The entire system is fitted with Atlas Copco’s SMARTLINK data monitoring programme, which intelligently gathers, compares and analyses data to increase maintenance and service efficiency. SMARTLINK provides Sika UK with a complete insight of its compressed air and nitrogen production, helps to predict potential problems and shows how and where operations can be optimised, and energy can be saved.

All components of the centralised compressed air and nitrogen supply are connected to two new ring mains comprised of AIRnet modular, corrosion resistant aluminium pipework and fittings. The whole system is protected under an Atlas Copco 5-year extended warranty service plan, carried out by Compressor Engineering.

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