Maintenance is one of life’s necessary evils. We would all like to do without it but at the same time, we know we can’t. What we can do, however, is ensure its done efficiently, effectively and with minimum impact on “business as usual”.
While most people think only of the direct costs of hiring technicians and buying spare parts, when you consider the full impact and risks associated with maintenance operations, the real costs can be significantly higher!
So when one of Brazil’s largest pulp and paper manufacturers needed to conduct a full overhaul of their process-critical compressors, they needed an absolutely failsafe back-up solution.
A solution that would ensure a seamless transition, next-to-no production downtime, full compliance with health, safety and environmental guidelines and zero impact on the quality or quantity of their output.
Mission impossible? Not for Atlas Copco Specialty Rental’s team in Brazil. They got the full package set up in just 1 day – albeit after months of meticulous planning!
Two simple facts capture the constraints of this challenging project:
- compressed air is absolutely critical to the plant’s operations, since it powers the majority of the processing, transport and instrumentation over its 1000-metre-long production line, and
- while giving both of the plant’s 13,200m3/hour centrifugal compressors a complete overhaul would take up to 2 weeks, interrupting production for even a few hours was absolutely out of the question. The strict demands of the manufacturer’s predominantly export business simply did not allow for any reduction, let alone stoppage in production whatsoever. Needless to say, reliability was going to be a key factor in choosing the right solution.
Quality as well as quantity
delivering 13,200m3 of oil-free compressed air every hour, 24 hours per day and for what turned out to be 10 days of continuous operation – not to mention ensuring a stable supply of fuel to produce it all – is already quite a mathematical equation!
On top of that, the limited floor space at the plant meant that all that air had to be compressed on a tiny footprint.
But it wasn’t just size that mattered in this particular project. In fact, the quality of the air was at least as important as the quantity. Being able to deliver pure air that was 100% free of oil and other contaminants was not only essential for the quality of the final product but also the longevity of the plant’s highly specialized machinery. Any blockage to one or more of its approx. 1000 valves, instruments and other sensitive components could have had disastrous consequences.
A failsafe solution
To meet the customer’s strict demands, Vanderson Lopes, Business Line Manager and his team designed and coordinated a comprehensive solution that covered every aspect of the switch to back-up air: “We proposed an array of 5 state-of-the-art PTS 1600 100% oil-free compressors to take over the job from the plant’s centrifugal compressors as they underwent maintenance one at a time. At the customer’s request, a 6th unit was added to the package to serve as a back-up in case of a breakdown or other failure. However, that scenario never eventuated, and the back-up was never used.”
Reliable equipment is one thing. But even the best compressors in the world can’t run without energy. “Our service went beyond just the rental of the machines. We offered a genuine total solution that included transport, installation, 24/7 operation, comprehensive monitoring and testing and meticulous fuel management,” explains <Cesar Avanci, Technical consult of Atlas Copco Rental>. “We took care of the delivery, storage and constant supply of diesel without any shortages, spillages or leakages. Also important to note is that our solution fit comfortably and safely within the plant’s limited floorspace, whereas most competitor solutions would have required twice the footprint to deliver the same flow rates.”
Speed = profit
The full package of 6 PTS 1600 compressors including auxiliary fuel tanks, hoses and connections was delivered, assembled, tested and commissioned by our local team in just 1 day. And after the successful completion of the project, it was all disassembled and removed with the same level of speed and efficiency.
Given that process speed often has a far greater impact on profitability than most cost-cutting measures, that level of agility should always be an important consideration in any processing or production environment. All in all, it was just the icing on the cake of a flawlessly executed project that resulted in one very satisfied customer.