18.1.2018 - Johannes Puro - Compressed air
Compressed air is the standard way to transfer power in industrial manufacturing.
Over 12 % of world industrial electricity, and 4-5 % of world total electricity is used to produce industrial compressed air.
– Most of the compressed air is produced with oil lubricated compressor, but 20-25% of it is oil free compressed air, begins Timo Pulkki, the CEO of Tamturbo.
The food, drink, pharmaceutical, chemical, electronics, paper, automotive and textile industries are examples of the fields where a tiny drop of oil in the process is enough to ruin the end product.
– Same applies to for instance to the painting and coating processes of automotive industry, Pulkki adds.
The field of compressed air is experiencing its biggest revolution in 60 years. At the moment, the 10 BEUR world compressed air market is growing 7-8 % annually, and share of oil-free of the total market is growing fast. That is why Tamturbo is expecting 100 million revenue by 2023 for its innovation that produces oil free compressed air – also as a service.
“As compressors wear, the risk of oil getting into air system increases”
A large percentage of compressed air is produced with so called dry “oil-free” screw compressors, a technology over 50 years old. While “oil-free” screw compressors have been used for many years, they are not really oil-free.
– To function, these products need oil for lubricating gears and bearing and thus, contain large amounts of oil. As these compressors wear, the risk of oil getting into air system increases, Pulkki warns.
Because of wearing the compressor units require a very costly rebuilding the screw elements every few years. This is unavoidable and typically the service is available only from the original manufacturer or their service partners.
– Total cost of such service and air-end rebuilding is 50% or more of a new “oil-free” compressor package cost. Large compressor such as these are used for 15 to 20 years with multiple rebuilds. It means that rebuilds together with fast decreasing energy efficiency, costly annual service and maintenance, the total cost of ownership of “oil free” screw compressor becomes very high, Timo Pulkki explains.
Due to these reasons compressed air business is in it’s biggest technological change for decades, and is going fast towards direct drive high-speed turbo technology, which solves all the mentioned challenges.
And that is why Tamturbo expects to reach 3%-5% percent market share of the world industrial oil free compressed air market.
Tamturbo’s direct driven turbo compressors have simple design with the compressor impellers directly mounted on high speed permanent magnet motors.
– Design uses no gears, no oil or oil-related systems, no mechanical seals or any other parts that touch or wear. The active magnetic bearings keep the motor shaft magnetically levitating at all times. The variable speed control adjusts the compressor to air demand fluctuations with high efficiency.
The compressors’ control system includes an advanced self-protecting and diagnostic system for local and remote monitoring to avoid unexpected stoppages.
– All the parties involved will know exactly what is going on with the compressor and can monitor the compressor status and condition at all times, Pulkki explains.
“The design makes the compressor risk free unlike any other compressor technology today”
With no mechanical touch between moving compressor parts, Tamturbo compressors don’t wear. No wear means unchanged efficiency with virtually no need for service or even maintenance of the system. Active magnetic bearings are powered even in emergency stops and power disruptions.
– This means uninterrupted air delivery and avoiding expensive and multiple compressor rebuilding. The design makes the compressor risk free unlike any other compressor technology today, Timo Pulkki promises.
– Combined all these mean clearly the lowest total cost of ownership in the market. Customers can get Tamturbo compressors and pay only for the use – essentially paying for the produced air. This means predictable cost, while avoiding capital investment, Pulkki says.
Once again collection of the data has enabled innovative business model and approach.
– Because we know the state of our equipment we are able to support our customers and bare the full risk of the functioning of the product. Many of our competitors sell only air compressors, we sell also the compressed air itself as a service.