A tale of two compressors

Finding the right compressor for the job is easier said than done. That is why Motion Industrial Centre Technical Experts like Jamie Robertson are there — to relieve that pressure.  Read more

Less mess with oil-free compressors

Cleanliness is a line in the sand that can’t be crossed when it comes to food and beverage processing plants. Regulations and by-laws that govern the manufacture of edible consumables are there to protect the public.

By their very nature, factories are not the cleanest of environments. This is why traceability of foodstuffs is becoming more prevalent, not only so consumers can see where their sustenance is being processed, but also if there is a recall, authorities can trace the cause of any food poisoning outbreak. Therefore it is incumbent on those that create food and beverage products to make sure the produce is prepared in the cleanest, most sterile environment possible.

One aspect of ensuring cleanliness is to make sure the equipment that is being used is up to scratch. Air compressors are an important piece of equipment that are used extensively on production lines in many food and beverage factories throughout Australia.

ELGi has been in the air compressor business for more than 50 years, and been in Australia for the past eight years. Aimed at the higher end of the compressor market, the company offers a series of machines including it oil-free range, which is suitable for the food and beverage market.

Tom Fyfe, president of ELGi in Australia, is bullish about the company’s place within the industry and is excited about the potential it has going forward. This includes buying out a major distributor.

“We are determined to become one of the top three compressor companies,” Fyfe said. “And we are definitely up there, which is why we offer a lifetime warranty on the oil-injected units. We started to look at how we could expand in the Australian market, so in August 2018 we acquired Pulford Air and Gas and Advanced Air Compressors, which was basically one company with two entities. This gave us a bigger footprint in the market so we now have offices in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It’s helped cement our position as a major player.”

He also sees food and beverage as not only an important market for the company but a growing one, too. He said ELGi is pushing more into the food and beverage and pharmaceutical arenas because they don’t see as much of a downturn in these sectors as much as some other manufacturing sectors.

ELGi has two ranges of oil-free compressors that are suitable for these types of manufacturing environments.

“They’re traditional oil-free units that are dry screw, and come in 75kW to 450kW configurations,” he said. “We also have a new range of water-injected units that was released in Hannover in 2019, which go from 11kW up to 110kW. The dry-screw versions are both air and water cooled. The 11kW and 110W versions are water-injected, air-cooled only.”

Planned maintenance
Fyfe knows that planned maintenance is an important part of any production manager’s schedule. With that in mind, he said that ELGi has developed air compressors that not only work hard, but have extensive back-up service, which is just as important. The buying of the Pulford Air and Gas and the Advanced Air Compressors businesses means they now have more technicians on the ground.

“In Sydney, we have 16 technicians on the road plus two internal technical people,” he said. “In Melbourne and Brisbane, we have five in each. And we work closely with regional distributors. We have very good distributors in WA and SA, and each of those guys has four to six technicians. There’s a huge amount of support for the product. I would say far more than some of our major competitors. I have colleagues who use some of our competitor’s products and they say the support is poor and they charge like wounded bulls.

“Support is a huge thing, and that is why it’s not only important to get assistance from the distributor but the manufacturer, too. As a distributor, you want support from the manufacturers as well. And we’ve experienced pretty poor service from certain suppliers Pulford have been with before. Because of that, we are very mindful of the service we provide to our customers.”

Fyfe is also aware quality is a key driver in the food and beverage market. He said ELGi’s offerings are now up there with the best compressor manufacturers due to a couple of reasons. First, it has undertaken quality improvement measures. For example, one of the biggest factors with the water-injected ranges of compressors is that the company produces its own air-ends, which will need servicing after 4,000 hours. This gives it a longer pre-maintenance working life than most other models on the market.

Second, ELGi also builds its own water separator in the unit, which is a proprietary piece of technology. It allows the company to have more control over the success or failure of the parts. This is why it has its own foundry. It doesn’t outsource the manufacturing of its critical components to third parties.

“We have control over the foundry,” he said. “The foundry is unbelievable – you can eat off the floor it is that clean. And by doing that, we’re controlling the quality right at the start of the process.

Take the air-end for example, which is the most expensive part of the machine. ELGi took over complete control of that component because it wanted to get the quality right and the right cost, too.

The company casts the exterior of the air-end housing and the rotors themselves. The new water-injected range has an aluminium housing, with stainless-steel rotors in it.

The oil-free range has a cast iron housing with steel rotors that have a proprietary coating on them. Fyfe believes that ELGi offers an affordable option to a lot of small- to medium-sized manufacturers, not just the big players in the market.

“I think we are offering a machine at a better price point and a much better lower cost of service over the life of the machine than some of the other options out there,” he said. “With most of the oil-free units available from other companies, you’re required to change air ends after a really small amount of hours.

“For a food processer, you have to build that into your maintenance plan, which can be expensive.”

Into the future
How does Fyfe see the next few years? He said there has been a little slow-down in some of the smaller manufacturing industries – especially for the 5kW to 30kW air compressors. But he is seeing some really good things happening in the larger markets – like the 55kW to 250kW market in both the resources sector and manufacturing. Then there is the foray into the food and beverage space.

“At the moment we have about 20 per cent market share in the oil-injected range. Over the next five years, our goal is to be either number two or three in that oil-free range. We have an incredibly good oil-free range that is low cost of ownership and reliable, which we hope can penetrate the market with good sales and good reference customers that see a benefit of switching over. Things are still going good for us but we have a long way to go.”

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.

Nitrogen generators for food manufacturers

The use of nitrogen in food packaging has been widespread for several years. Primarily used as a non-chemical method of food preservation, nitrogen meets the demands of the food industry for ready availability of everything from exotic tropical fruits to bread, rice and potatoes throughout the year regardless of season and location. 

There is also the additional pressure of making fruits, vegetables and various other perishables available all year round in ‘just produced’ condition at competitive, affordable prices.

Nitrogen gas generators enable food manufacturers to package their goods in the most durable and purified manner possible and meet these demands head on. Nitrogen can improve the quality and expand the availability of perishable commodities without leaving any chemical residue.

Sullair’s Hollow Fibre Membranes and Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) nitrogen gas generators provide a solution for every food and industrial application that requires nitrogen gas with residual oxygen levels from 16% down to 10ppm (up to 99.999 % purity).

Nitrogen does not react with elements around it, and therefore, can be used to displace oxygen inside produce storage facilities, slowing down the ripening process and allowing the fruit to remain viable during the transport process.

Used inside food packaging to prevent oxidation and spoilage of raw food ingredients, nitrogen helps manufacturers achieve a meaningful shelf-life extension for their products.

Sullair nitrogen gas generators deliver multiple advantages in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) applications including preservation of product flavour, aroma, texture and nutritional value; increased sales through high product quality; fewer product returns; increased production efficiency with longer production runs; better product colour and texture at point of sale; extended shelf life; and increased export opportunities to new geographic markets.