Productivity by Design - Reavell Aftermarket Solutions

by Peter Satchwell - Sales Director

Reducing High Pressure Compressor Downtime During Maintenance

Time is money and in a busy production environment, you want to ensure that downtime is kept to an absolute minimum to help maximise productivity – and profitability.

This is especially the case with your compressed air system. Over 10 per cent of all the electricity supplied to industry is used to compress air; an indication of the scale and size of the installed estate of air compressors across the globe.  Operators are therefore keen to maintain maximum uptime of these ‘workhorses’ of modern production to ensure there is no impact to the bottom line.

However, any compressor system will require support throughout its working life, including routine, planned maintenance to protect equipment reliability and performance - especially in high-pressure applications, where production output is reliant on a continuous source of high-quality air.

The Carbon Trust estimates that around seven per cent of a compressor’s cost of ownership over a ten-year lifecycle is its maintenance. While energy costs will always remain the highest proportion of overall spend, this is by no means an insignificant sum and any maintenance improvements that can be realised will have a positive impact.

It’s not a new dilemma; striking the right balance between equipment operating hours, essential compressor maintenance and production demands is not a straightforward task.  The question is not whether compressor servicing can be avoided, but how maintenance can be made simpler and therefore, quicker. It’s a question we are often asked at Gardner Denver – especially in relation to high-pressure compressor products which are often viewed as complicated and therefore, time-intensive to maintain.

Here’s our short guide to some of the areas to consider when investing in high-pressure compressed air systems.

High Pressure Air Compressor Genuine Parts
High Pressure Compressor Genuine Parts

Good Design Saves Time

An area that is often overlooked is the ease of maintaining your chosen compressor. Even the smallest design innovations can have a major impact when it comes to reducing downtime during routine servicing.

 Intelligent component arrangement, for example, can have a positive impact, enabling easy access.  This is a key benefit during periods of unplanned downtime, perhaps as a result of parts’ failure, as the sooner the service engineer can replace the component, the quicker the compressor can be back in operation.

The Design Challenge

The final high-pressure stage in any reciprocating compressor is a complicated assembly and the challenge for all manufacturers over the years has been to refine this design for longer component life and easier servicing. 

It is an area that we have invested in for many years.  Back in the 1990s, we moved away from metal piston rings running on cast iron bores with high pressure lubrication, to polymer rings running on other materials with minimal lubrication.  

We've learnt a lot since then and have continued refining and evolving this technology to deliver ring and bore life far exceeding that of metallic ring designs, all in a very low lubrication environment.



High Pressure Compressors Spare Parts
High Pressure Air Compressor Spare Parts

Less is More

We’ve already mentioned the benefits of intelligent design helping to reduce downtime during servicing.  Part of this intelligence comes with reducing the number of parts that need to be changed out too. 

For example, we run a single combined concentric suction and delivery valve on each stage of compression, which means that only a single component needs to be changed out at valve change period. 

Each of these valves is retained below a single valve cover itself retained by only four studs.  So, changing each stage valve really is less than a five-minute job.

The valve on the final and penultimate compressor stages cover a piston which is retained from the top side by a single cap-screw.  Undo this screw and the piston and ring pack can be pulled and replaced just as easily as the valve.  Ring packs are shipped as spares ready assembled on the piston to make the operation even easier, helping to free up service engineers for other tasks.




The Ultimate Challenge

Time is, indeed money. So much so, that one of our loyal customers literally put us to the test.  Not with detailed analysis of compressor parameters or equipment uptime, but with a good, old-fashioned stop watch! 

From hitting the stop button, to running again after a final stage piston, rings and valve change was just eight minutes!

That’s less than the time it takes for light from the sun to reach the earth or for the average person to take their morning shower!

Happily for you, if you invest in intelligent compressor architecture your machine can be back up and running in no time; without having to travel at the speed of light or even getting wet!

If you have any questions about compressor aftermarket and how to avoid unplanned downtime and its costs, please contact us today or view more information on our Aftermarket Solutions here.