Compressing the right information for customers

The food industry needs to operate efficiently to ensure quick delivery of produce, so it is as fresh as possible for customers. To meet this standard, reliable air compressors with a proven track record of success are required.

Air compressor faults take time to repair and that downtime also threatens required delivery objectives, especially for fresh produce going to market.

It is for this reason David Malthouse, BSC Product Specialist, says the company only works with leading air compressor manufacturers.

He says the BSC teams’ product knowledge combined with proven products, enables BSC customers to get the best outcome for their processing plants.

One such air compressor manufacturer is Peerless. Troy Jamieson, Peerless National Sales and Marketing Representative says every machine the company supplies comes with a recommended service guidance.

“At each factory we also run and test everything so that when we supply the product to BSC we know we have tested it for a good two to three hours or more,” Jamieson says.

He says in the food industry it is really important to have both the right compressor and the right filtration.

“Air compressors can start delivering air from 1 litre to 6500+ litres, that is why it is very critical we talk to the consumer about what their air requirements are and how that can be best serviced,” Jamieson explains.

This is where BSC and Peerless’ close relationship becomes a critical factor in customer service.

“We work very closely with our partners in the market. They might contact us and say they have a consumer and they want to get advice from the manufacturer. In these circumstances we try and work as a unit to ensure we are quoting the right compressor for the right application,” Jamieson asserts.

David Malthouse at BSC agrees, saying the company use staff knowledge to ensure customers end up with the best suited product.

“Our team have the practical knowledge and expertise to make educated industry relevant recommendations for air compressors, and a vast array of other products, to benefit customers,” Malthouse enthuses.

BSC can supply air compressors to suit various food and manufacturing plant applications from their range of branches throughout Australia.

“BSC can offer customers same day delivery, based on their location, in order to get any processing plant up and running as soon as possible,” Malthouse says.

When purchasing an air compressor, the BSC team are there to support and advise the customer for any application.

“We can calculate and recommend the correct size and volume of air required to service a site. We can also interchange and identify the difference between compressor brands, so the customer is supplied the right one,” Malthouse adds.

“We also recommend service agents for all brands and can offer engineering support through our own engineering section.”

One BSC customer is a major Australian horticulture company, Costa Group, and in May of 2019 they approached BSC in the search of a new air compressor requirement for its Monarto mushroom farm site expansion.

The compressor was required for two new Evolable machines, capable of labelling 240 punnets of mushrooms every minute. In addition to labellers, the compressor also needed to provide air to Costa’s Ishida machine, indexing conveyor and bucket elevator.

The team at BSC Lonsdale, which service the Monarto site turned to Peerless to relay the customer’s needs.

Costa, Peerless and BSC then worked together to determine a suitable screw compressor unit to best suit the Monarto site.

This was the Peerless HQ10/8, capable of delivering 1200LPM or air at 116PSI (8BAR) which can be fully regulated down to the desired PSI settings. It was also fitted with an oil separator and flow meter.

Costa initially had concerns around the oil separator and filtration on the Peerless HQ10/8, which Peerless quickly confirmed exceeds the requirements of the AS/ NZS1715 with regards to particle removal and oil carryover.

After negotiation with pricing and delivery, Costa were satisfied with the end result and proceeded with the order.

Finding the right solution for customers like Costa is what Malthouse likes most about his job.

“The best part of my job is the people,” he says. “My drive is to help all the people I deal with and do my best to solve any issues they have locating required products, to service their efficiency needs.”

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Is that hissing noise the sound of money going up in smoke?

One thing that never fails to amaze Greg Gillespie is the amount of times he walks into a manufacturing or processing plant and hears hissing. It immediately tells him that they are running an air compressor or a bank of air compressors. It also tells him that the company is throwing money down the drain. That hissing sound is either one, or a series of leaks, coming from the compressed air system.

Gillespie, who is the national sales manager for air compressor manufacturer ELGi, said that in some cases companies are literally throwing thousands of dollars down the drain every year. Not only that, but when he hears that tell-tale sign of hissing, he knows that doesn’t include the ones he can’t hear.

“I’ve walked into a lot of different places – and to be fair my ear is tuned for it – and I immediately hear all the air leaks,” he said. “And I’ll say to the person on site, ‘you’ve got a few air leaks’. They generally reply, ‘no we don’t’. They don’t hear them because it is background noise to them.”

What he encourages people to do is stay back for five minutes after the work day when everything is quiet. He’s confident that they will then hear the noise.

“And the thing is, if you can hear an air leak, it’s a large one. There will be quite a few air leaks you’ll never hear without ultrasonic equipment, especially if they are inside a piece of equipment,” he said.

Gillespie said the culprits in these leaks are usually the same range of suspects – hose clamp connections, seals failing, and worn fittings. And he’s not saying that maintenance managers have to fix them all at once. He knows that, especially in the some of the bigger food and beverage manufacturing and process plants, it can be a big job. A maintenance plan is needed and such a plan is not something whereby a leak is fixed once and then forgotten about. It will depend on the size of the factory and plant and how many compressors are working. He acknowledges it would be a big task to do it all in one go, so maintenance managers would set about a plan to go and rectify the leaks starting with the biggest one first. Then they would just do a constant, weekly check. But what is the cost?

“If someone has an air audit done then they start to realise that ‘holy heck, we’re leaking thousands of dollar per annum’,” he said. “The more plant and machinery you have in place, the more the leaks are going to cost your bottom line.

“If you have a small place with a 2.2kW compressor, then that cost isn’t going to be that high. But if it is a larger factory with 100kW of installed compressor power, then it will cost a lot.

“I know of a place that has three 55kW machines. One of those 55kW machines pretty much services air leaks. If they fixed their air leaks they can turn one of their compressors off. Do the maths of 55kW of power running all day. They operate 24/7 – not at full capacity – but they are aware of it. I’m sure if you put all the numbers down in front of the people running the place, suddenly it wouldn’t be too hard to fix.”

Education is also a key ingredient. A lot of places he visits think the air is free. Quite often Gillespie will see people “sweeping” the floor with an air gun. It’s convenient, it’s quick, but it does come at a cost.

“Some think it is quicker doing it that way because it reduces the labour cost involved,” he said. “I routinely see people cleaning down their areas using air. It’s not a safe practice to do it.”

But what causes the leaks in the first place? The leak itself is being caused by faulty equipment, but what caused that equipment to become faulty in the first place? Gillespie believes that not only does the factory need the right air compressor for the right job, but it is also the type of air distribution network that is being used that can be a problem. This includes not only the size of the pipe that is distributing the air, but what it is made out of, too.

“I talk to people about becoming efficient, which starts with the right compressor and the right distribution network,” he said. “That is where things like the pipe size, pipe type (poly, aluminium, copper) and how you articulate it comes into play.”

A good distribution system will be one that will be less likely to leak over time – what sort of pipe and the distance over which it is set up are important considerations to limit pressure losses.

“The type of pipe is important because with some piping temperature changes can cause it to expand and contract, and start to bend and twist, so I much prefer people investing in rigid pipe,” said Gillespie. “Depending on the type of rigid pipe system you go for – if you go for something like a braised copper, or stainless steel or even aluminium/copper pipe with fittings – these are going to be less leaks than some other methods.”

If it is the wrong size pipe it will put unnecessary load on the compressor under pressure, which can induce something called artificial demand. This can be magnified if there are multiple compressors in the system, which can be very costly, he said. Gillespie also pointed out that there are also lots of government grants that can help companies become more energy efficient. They change on a regular basis. At the moment there is grant that finished recently that was available for companies that were replacing existing equipment with more efficient equipment with variable speed drives.

“I helped a customer do that and they got nearly 50 per cent of the price of the compressor rebated,” he said. “There is another grant available at the moment which is up to $5,000 rebate for people to put permanent monitoring equipment in to their plant so they can monitor the efficiencies of their compressed air system. Compressed air systems account for about 30 per cent of all industrial power.”

As part of the government’s push to increase energy savings and reduce emissions, they are encouraging industry to work in a more economical way and an area to do that is air compressors, said Gillespie. A lot of people think these things revolve around lighting and solar power. However, quite often there are grants going around to make more efficient compressed air systems.

For the bigger companies that are setting up a new system or refurbishing an older system, Gillespie said putting some budget aside for a monitoring system is also a good idea.
“I have a company I’m dealing with at the moment and they are going to need about 300kW of power. It’s going to be a couple of hundred thousand dollars’ worth of equipment and I’m putting monitoring equipment in my quote – $6,000 worth. To me, it would be absolutely crazy not to do it. The advantages are a no brainer on a system that size.”

Gillespie also cautions against overthinking too much about what to do. An air audit is a simple thing to do and that will give a clearer indication of what a company’s needs are and how they can be remedied.

“I would try not to oversell it because sometimes you can take somebody down that rabbit hole and they can become overwhelmed because they have been inundated with the information and data,” he said.

“You have to find that balance. There are instances where you might spend $10,000 to modify pipework and save yourself $1,000. There’s no payback.”

There are lots of things going on with flow and thermodynamics, you could easily make someone’s head spin.

“At the end of the day, a well-designed and maintained compressed air system is going to be more efficient. And that will save money every day of operation.”

ELGi determined to make impact on the industrial compressor market

Being a lesser known brand in a competitive industry can be an issue. But if there is a sure way to prove to an industry that you are serious about being a point of difference, while also trying to build your brand, then winning a prestigious award is a good start.

That is what happened to ELGi, the Indian-based manufacturer of high-quality industrial air compressors. When the biggest competitor is German engineering in the form of Kaeser, it can be a hard row to hoe when trying to convince potential clients about the comparitive benefits of your gear. However, winning the coveted Deming Prize for Total Quality Management – the first industrial compressor manufacturer outside of Japan to win the award – goes a long way to show how committed ELGi is to making a dent in the market, including in food and beverage manufacturing plants in Australia.

Having bought Pulford Air & Gas and its subsidiary Advanced Air Compressors in 2018, the company has an ambition to become the second biggest compressor company in Australia.

It concedes that number one, Atlas Copco, is almost unreachable, but the company is keen to get higher on the ladder. ELGi national sales manager, Greg Gillespie, and business development manager, Brian Vegh, both know that they have a hard job ahead of them going from sixth in the pecking order up to number two. However, they also have a belief and confidence that the product not only has the ability and technology to do the job, but the manufacturing process is second to none.

“Atlas Copco is the Empire State Building on the graph you see on a piece of paper,” said Vegh. “We are number six at the moment, but there is not much difference between number six and number three.”

And in order to get up the pecking order, ELGi’s strategy is to espouse the benefits of its products such as the standards they are manufactured to, and the importance of the total quality management measures it has in place when it manufactures the compressors.

“ELGi compressors meet every international standard that any other company meets,” said Gillespie. “They control 100 per cent of the manufacturing process, from the sand they collect for the castings right through to the final product.”

Both Gillespie and Vegh know that there is a perception that compressors not manufactured in the US and Europe are somehow not up to scratch. This is why the company introduced Total Quality Management processes, which culminated in winning the Deming Prize in 2019. Not only that, the company has so much faith in its compressors it offers a 10-year warranty, something most of its opposition don’t do. There is also the perception that their compressors are made to Indian standards, which can sometimes be at odds with Australian regulations.

“A domestic product in India will have a metal starting box on it, which is acceptable over there, but you can’t have a metal starter box here in Australia,” he said. “The ones that arrive on these shores are all up to Australian standards already.”

Two of the key attributes of the compressors are the aforementioned 10 year warranty and their operational efficiency. Gillespie said the efficiency is about 10 per cent better than most similar products that are on the market. There is a reason for this.

“ELGi manufactures all the main components themselves. They mainly use Siemens motors and contactors,” said Gillespie. “We manufacture our own air end, which is the most expensive part of the machine – from the sand to the finished product. The design work they put into the air end to make it more efficient is top notch.

“Then there is the efficiency. Over a five year period, the cost of compressed air is 85 per cent of the cost of electricity/power. If you get a machine you start talking about 200kW of installed compressed air, and they run 24/5 days a week or 24/7 – which is anywhere between 5,000 and 8,000 hours a year. We can supply customers with a machine that is going to be anywhere between 3 and 8 per cent more efficient than some other machines out there. That is a lot of money over five years.”

The most expensive part of compressor is the air-end, which is important when it comes to the 10-year warranty. This is the actual screw where the air gets compressed, and in the case of ELGi, it is one the company has designed itself. It is for this reason they are happy to offer such a long warranty period for their compressors.

“We have heard of situations where only a 12-month warranty on air-ends was offered,” said Gillespie. “The warranty ended on midnight of that day. If it failed the next day, you have got nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

And how suitable is the company’s range for the food and beverage industry? When you’re talking its oil-free range, they are perfect, said Gillespie.

“When it comes to working in food and beverage, our compressors are Class 0,” he said. “With the quality system we use, everything is 100 per cent trackable and traceable. If you open up a machine you will see every screw, nut and bolt hallmarked in yellow.”

“That means every part has been checked. Every single one,” said Vegh. “If you have been in the factory, everyone who works at the foundry is on a production line. They go through a comprehensive checklist when the machines are being manufactured.”

The company is also aware of the impact its manufacturing will have on the environment and have measures in place to make the least amount of impact as possible.

“The sand they use to do their casting will only come from a reputable source and they recycle over 90 per cent of it because of the environmental issues,” said Gillespie. “It is also cost-effective. They’ve built the plant around that supply so they only have to use the minimal amount of sand they need.”

Finally, there is the back-up service that is available. Both Gillespie and Vegh point out that while the product is very good, if there are not people on the ground to help customers, then that can cause a whole range of problems.

“One of the hardest issues with industrial compressors in Australia is retaining and getting good service personal,” said Gillespie. “Most of them started out as fitter and turners. That is what I started out as and there are not of lot of us that stay on the tools their whole career.”

He believes one of the reasons it is hard to employ service technicians are the specifications of the job.

“Being a service technician means you are on the road a lot,” said Gillespie. “You have to like that. Some guys get sick of the travelling and driving. You have to be very autonomous.
“You do routine maintenance of products but then you have to walk into a business where everybody is looking at you. There’s 30 people standing out on the street like there is a fire drill waiting for you to fix it for them. When that machine is down, the down time is so costly to a company they want it fixed now. And some tradies are just not interested.”
Vegh reiterates that you can’t underestimate the back-up service.

“Some of the bigger air compressor manufacturers, for want of a better description, are just selling boxes. That is all they do,” he said. “Once that is done, they are onto the next customer and that’s it. One of our biggest selling points is our after sales service. We have the Advanced Air and ELGi distribution network. We have 52 service technicians nationally, as well as New Zealand.

“If you need help at 11.59pm just before the whole country is waiting for the fireworks to go off on New Year’s Eve or 9.32am on Christmas Day, we will be there to help you. It’s the 24/7, 365 days a year help and support that we pride ourselves on. Selling a compressor is not the hard thing, it’s what you do for the customer in three years’ time that makes a difference.

“Each person who works in the plant prides themselves on the quality of the product.
“We have a rigorous checking process here in Australia when it comes to the ELGi gear we bring into the country. If it is not up to scratch we send it back.”

Compressor manufacturer wins Deming prize

ELGi Equipments, the global air compressor manufacturer, is the first business of its kind to win the Deming Prize in 60 years.

The prize, which recognises excellence in total quality management (TQM), is awarded annually by the Japanese Union of Scientists and Engineers (JUSE) since 1951.

ELGi has been on its TQM journey since 2008, and through this business practice aims to be the second largest manufacturer of air compressors by 2027. Activities pursued under the strategy include production improvement activities and human resource development initiatives.

Accepting the award, Jairam Varadaraj, managing director of ELGi Equipments, noted that the trajectory is not always as smooth as it may appear.

“On paper, the path to success is pretty straight forward. But realising it requires a secret sauce. An envelope that rigorously enables, executes and continuously improves the organisation through a process orientation. TQM has been our secret sauce. We have a long way to go but TQM has helped us become a better company for all of our stakeholders.”

Initiatives included in the TQM drive include 400 hours of employee training per person for those on the shop floor, implementing in house and external quality education, and the creation of ELGi’s own vocational training school. Standardisation in sales processes has also been part of the program.

“At ELGi, we endeavour to accomplish ordinary tasks in an extraordinary manner, and turn extraordinary ambitions into ordinary tasks; TQM has significantly enabled the same,” said Varadaraj.

Ensuring air quality in food & beverage manufacturing

Compressed air plays an indispensable role in the food and beverage sector and is used in a broad range of applications including Product Transportation and Storage; Packaging, Filling and Capping; Cooling, Spraying and Cleaning; and Fermentation and Aeration.

However, while they are critical for all modern food and beverage manufacturing facilities, if not used appropriately compressors can actually have a detrimental effect. Contaminants emitted by compressors can affect food safety standards.

“Generally, there are three types of contaminants in compressed air – oil, moisture, and particles,” said William Chan, product manager at CAPS Australia. “Oil and many types of particles are detrimental to consumers’ health while moisture can lead to the growth of bacteria, either in equipment or the end product.”

Chan advises that food and beverage manufacturers who want to avoid air quality problems should follow a two-step process.

The first step is to select an appropriate compressor. There are two types of compressors on the market, oil lubricated compressors and oil free compressors.

“With oil lubricated compressors you actually inject oil into the compression process, which means you actually pass this contaminant (lubricant) downstream. If the compressed air isn’t ever in contact with any of the end product, in theory food makers can use this technology without risk,” said Chan.

However, in applications where the compressed air does come into contact with the end product, oil free compressors should be used. “Oil free compressors do not inject any lubricants in the compression process, which means we can safely say that one of the three contaminants has been reduced,” said Chan.

The second step to ensuring air quality is in the correct choice of drying technology which is the means by which moisture is removed from compressed air. “Once again, if the compressed air does not come into contact with the end product then the user can potentially use a refrigeration dryer instead of a desiccant dryer,” said Chan.

In applications where the compressed air does come into contact with the end product, a desiccant dyer is the best option.

CAPS Australia offers both lubricated compressors and oil-free compressors. All of these oil-free models comply with the ISO 8573-1 Class 0 2010 standard. This Class 0 certification is the most stringent class of air quality and certifies that the air discharged by the compressor is free of added oil aerosols, vapours and liquids.

In addition, the company supplies refrigeration dryers, desiccant dryers, as well as filtration products, storage products and nitrogen generators. As Chan explained, nitrogen is used as a preservation agent, for example inside packets of chips or wine bottles, to maintain freshness and preserve taste.

Asked how CAPS Australia can help food and beverage manufacturers decide what’s right for them, Chan said the company offers site audits as well as energy audits. They can help fitout businesses with the right equipment and guide them with regard to energy saving potential.







Oil-free scroll compressors

With the launch of the S-Series scroll compressor range, CompAir has further extended its PureAir range of oil-free compressors, which now cater to application requirements in the 4 kW to 15 kW range.

Air purity is crucial in a variety of industries, ranging from food production and pharmaceuticals, to electronics and biotechnology.

With its compact design, and low noise operation, the series of compressors is suited to ensure full protection from contamination and to meet the demands of sensitive environments such as laboratories and hospitals.

The series of compressors provides continuous, reliable, low-maintenance operation to meet a variety of flexible compressed air demands. Available in a range of kW sizes, starting at 4 kW for Simplex units, and 7 kW for Duplex units, the scroll compressor series is capable of delivering a volume flow between 23.6 to 106 m³/hr at 8 bar, and 21.2 to 82.6 m³/hr at 10 bar.

The series can also be installed with the optional Deluxe HMI control panel. With an intuitive and easy-to-use graphical user interface the Deluxe HMI control panel provides users with real-time information such as system runtime meters, maintenance timers, and discharge pressure/temperature statistics.


An integrated webserver utilises Modbus TCP over Ethernet, which allows users to monitor S-Series units from any internet-connected computer, smartphone, or mobile device.

Oil-free compressed air for the food industry

Boge Kompressoren offers a wide range of oil-free compressed air systems that are designed with customised preparation systems to help food manufacturers achieve maximum safety and avoid expensive product recalls.

“All technologies that come into contact with foods have to be oil-free, including compressed air. Whether it is conveying flour, filling wine, sorting salad leaves or cleaning packaging, oil-free compressed air of Class 0 is an absolute precondition to ensure safe foods for consumers,” said Nalin Amunugama, General Manager, Boge Kompressoren Asia Pacific.

Further, many compressed air system suppliers overlook the significance of the quality of the intake air. Specifically, oil-free Class 0 compressed air is only guaranteed if the intake air also meets the conditions of Class 0. Currently, compressors that fall into this category are those that demonstrate a lower residual content of oil in oil-free generated compressed air than compressors in Class 1.

Boge makes a finer distinction: although it offers completely oil-free systems such as the HST, PO and Scroll series, which can generate high-quality compressed air in Class 0, it makes sure to emphasise that this is dependent on the quality of intake air. Only the Boge Bluekat range supplies oil-free compressed air of Class 0 under all conditions – these compressors operate with a catalytic converter that changes hydrocarbons into water and carbon dioxide in a chemical reaction. Unlike conventional filter systems like activated carbon, the air quality is constant. The catalyst works independently of the temperature and humidity of the reprocessed air.

Engineered to efficiently generate large quantities of oil-free air (in base load or intermittent mode), BOGE’s oil-free screw compressors can be optimally adapted to every site condition, to ultimately play an important role in critical applications such as in the food industry.

“With a reliable supply of oil-free air, users can also benefit from less expensive downstream air treatment, minimising total costs and energy consumption,” said Nalin points out.

Scroll compressor for the beverage industry

Purity isn’t just an issue when making beer, but also when decanting any drink. Boge has now extended its EO range of scroll compressors to ensure full protection from contamination.

The new EO 11 produces class 0 oil-free compressed air in the 11 kW performance segment. This means BOGE now covers the full performance range from 5.5 kW to 22 kW. The EO series is available with one to four airends. In the upgrade-ready version the EO 11 can be alternatively retrofitted with an integrated refrigerant dryer or a third airend. Its compact design combined with operation at min. 59 dB(A) means there is no problem with installing the system next to the workplace.

Oil-free compressed air for sensitive applications – BOGE caters for this requirement with its Eccentric-Oil free (EO) compressors. The recipe for success here is the scroll compressor technology which does without oil lubrication: The aluminium spirals in the compressor chamber intermesh but do not touch. The resulting compressed air is pulsation-free and absolutely free of oil.

Up to four compressors can be installed in the housing of the compressor to ensure flexible adaptation to the compressed air demand. At 10 bar the EO series can cover delivery rates from 490 l/min to 1,960 l/min, while at 8 bar the supply of compressed air ranges from 620 l/min to 2,480 l/min.

Featuring a modular design, the EO series can be ordered with an integrated or separate refrigerant compressed air dryer, mounted on a receiver or as a duplex and multiple system. Like the EO 17, the new EO 11 is available as an upgrade version. This allows the two- stage compressor to be extended to include a third airend or an integrated refrigerant dryer.

Kaeser launches compact and efficient boosters

 Kaeser recently launched its completely redesigned range of boosters. With drive powers ranging from 22 to 45kW, the new DNC series boosters from Kaeser are designed for applications that require high-pressure air such as; PET bottle production, process air applications and nitrogen generation.
Half the size of its predecessor, the new DNC series boosters have a small footprint for where space is at a premium. Optimised for low vibration and low noise emissions, these compact units also run noticeably quieter thanks to an enclosure with integrated after-cooling as well as a low-vibration basic structure.
The DNC series boosters are available with Sigma Frequency Control (SFC). Incorporating a variable speed drive ensures superior harmonisation of the booster on the input side with the upstream compressor output. 

This in turn allows for the reduction of the relatively high switching frequency characteristic of some booster applications. The powerful SFC functionality helps adjust the free air delivery as consistently as possible to meet the needs of the system. This reduces switching differentials on both sides, as well as potentially resulting overpressure, leaks and machine load – all of which contribute to energy savings.
The boosters also include an integrated Sigma Control 2 controller, equipped with special booster software, to ensure optimal system operation whilst also enabling convenient connection to master controller systems via Ethernet. 

Since all individual components can be coordinated with one another, the entire station can be optimised to provide maximum efficiency and performance.