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Rand-Air compressor assists the CSIR to ‘view its airs’ in wind tunnel tests

“Although this type of hire is not a first for us, at Rand-Air, we are always pleased to be able to be of service to an esteemed organisation such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR),” says Rand-Air Sales Representative Marinda Enslin. Earlier this year, over a period of five weeks, the CSIR in Pretoria hired a Rand-Air compressor to provide an auxiliary airflow for its Medium Speed Wind Tunnel (MSWT).

The MSWT is one of seven CSIR wind tunnels frequently used to provide an engineering test, measurement and evaluation foundation to the aerodynamic design efforts of mainly the South African aeronautical industry. The CSIR wind tunnels include a closed circuit sub-sonic tunnel, a transonic tunnel, a trisonic tunnel and a large test section open-circuit low-speed tunnel.

“The wind tunnels are generally used to measure airframe aerodynamic performance in a controlled ‘simulated flight’ environment. The object tested in this environment can be anything on which the movement of air exerts forces. This can be anything from a supermarket trolley in the Cape winds to a supersonic missile produced by the South Africa defence industry – though the latter in a different wind tunnel obviously,” explains the CSIR’s Works Engineer DPSS: Aeronautic Systems, Louis van Wyk.

Data collected at the facilities is used for airframe characterisation, and to populate complex modelling and simulation environments for broader mission simulation predictions, doctrine development and training.

Testing in the MSWT where the Rand-Air compressor was used is state-of-the-art. All operations are proceduralised, so as to make the projects cost-effective for the clients using the facility; which is typically used by large industries such as aeronautics and defence.

However, it is important that all aspects of these tests function optimally.

“In this respect, Rand-Air was able to contribute to the success of the testing by providing a state-of-the-art Atlas Copco PNS1250 portable 24-bar oil-free compressor which delivered air reliably as and when our customer needed it,” Enslin continues.

The specific wind tunnel test required an auxiliary airflow, supplied through a 2” hose into the wind tunnel test section, with the following specifications:  oil-free air, with an FAD (free air delivery) of 1200 cfm at 24 bar pressure.

“Although this is at the upper limit of the general capacity of portable compressors, it was within the capability of Rand-Air’s PNS1250 portable diesel oil-free high pressure compressor,” explains Enslin.

As the compressor needed to stand outside the building housing the wind tunnel, Rand-Air provided the CSIR team with extended high-pressure hoses to make the connection.  “After that the CSIR team took over as they knew exactly what they were doing and were fully familiar with the workings of this compressor,” Enslin adds.

A Rand-Air technician was available for immediate call-out during the rental period of the wind tunnel test. “A technician visited the test site once a week to inspect and service the rental compressor,” she adds.

“Ultimately, the compressor performed exactly according to its specifications, and successfully – and reliably – delivered the flow required for the tests.  At the CSIR, we were fully satisfied with its performance, and the service we received from Rand-Air,” he comments.

“We appreciated the opportunity to be able to contribute in some small measure to South Africa’s excellent scientific research efforts, which serve to keep South Africa at the forefront of international knowledge development,” Enslin concludes.

A really ‘refined’ solution: Rand-Air Durban supplies Class-0 oil-free air to oil refinery shutdowns

While Durban is one of South Africa’s major industrial hubs, it is also home to some of South Africa’s major oil refineries. The fuel and oil from these refineries keep much of South Africa and its economy on the move and flowing smoothly every day.

A refinery is a very large and highly complex operation which has been designed to run most of the time with a minimum of supervision. However, usually every two years, oil refineries need to be shut down for a period of intensive maintenance, replacement or repair. Naturally, this disruption to fuel supplies has to be very carefully planned and timed.

This is according to Rudi de Vry, Rand-Air’s Area Manager in Durban.

“During oil refinery shutdowns, thousands of subcontractors are hired to carry out the many maintenance procedures which are required. These subcontractors need to be supplied with temporary compressed air and power – as well as with other equipment – in order to carry out their allotted tasks. This is where Rand-Air comes in,” de Vry explains.

Over its 46 years of operation, Rand-Air has become the preferred rental equipment partner to South African oil refineries, including those in Durban.

“We have built up these relationships over many years, on the back of service which invariably goes beyond what the customer expects of us,” he says.

The Durban branch has recently completed just such a project, partnering with South Africa’s largest oil refinery during a shutdown which extended from 15 May until 15 July this year.

During the shutdown, the refinery needs dozens of equipment items. All of these have to be sourced and if necessary transported to Durban. The equipment then has to be checked by our technicians to make sure that it is as reliable as they it can possibly be, and then dispatched to the refinery site.

De Vry observes that with a small but highly motivated and efficient team in Durban, for Rand-Air during the refinery shutdown it was a case of ‘all hands on deck’, and extended working hours.

“Fortunately, we have an excellent, committed team here in Durban on both the sales and the service side. They always have a positive attitude and work well together as their aim to achieve a common goal,” he adds.

Recently, the Durban branch was pleased to be able to rent out one of the larger oil-free compressors in Rand-Air’s range to the same customer.

“Ironically, even though it was for an oil refinery, the customer required Class 0 oil-free air to keep its systems operational during a maintenance shutdown!

We have furthermore found that being able to supply Class 0 oil-free air – which is absolutely free of contaminants – has created a very nice niche for us with the various refineries in the region. These refineries therefore regularly hire our oil-free compressors. In this particular instance, the refinery concerned rented the PTS 1600 for a period of two weeks. When the compressor was returned to us, the customer feedback we received was very positive,” de Vry remarks.

Renting equipment to any refinery has to be done with considerable care, due to the nature of the business, and safety regulations are therefore stringent.

“When it comes to refineries, safety is their number one concern,” emphasises de Vry.

Rand-Air’s Durban team works closely with the refinery to meet their safety obligations. “Before our equipment is delivered to a refinery site, there are a number of procedures we need to carry out on the units to ensure that our standards are aligned with those of our customer. This involves close consultation with the refinery’s safety officials,” he explains.

Rand-Air supplies temporary compressed air and power to Oil Refinery shutdowns.

“If, for example, a refinery needs to have a compressor pressure-tested, we fully understand why this is needed and what the legal implications are. Once the equipment is on site, Rand-Air technicians continue to monitor it to ensure it delivers faultless performance,” he comments.

“Our refinery customers really do appreciate the effort we put into keeping them safe.”

Of course, during a refinery shutdown, even though we might be very busy, we still continue with our normal day-to-day rentals, which are to a wide variety of industries.

At present, we are looking forward to the rest of the year because there are some exciting opportunities coming our way. And, in spite of the tough economy, the Durban branch has been performing exceptionally well,” he concludes.

‘Do It Again’ and Rand-Air – clear consecutive winners at this year’s Durban July

This year, the gelding ‘Do It Again’ was the fifth horse – in the 123-year history of the Durban July – to win for two consecutive years.

In a similar vein, Rand-Air’s Durban team were called on to ‘do it again’ and supply the organisers of the race meeting with temporary lighting for the 2019 event.

Rand-Air is extremely proud to have been selected to supply lighting for added visibility and security at this year’s iconic Vodacom Durban July.

“While the organisers of the Durban July told us that they were very happy with our 2018 rental, we were still delighted to be called to Greyville race course for the second year in a row,” says Rand-Air Sales Representative Natlee Bennie.

A further testimony to Rand-Air’s excellent service was that, whereas in 2018 the organisers rented six units, in 2019, they increased this number to ten.

The equipment on hire consisted of Atlas Copco QLV, QLT, and QLB lighting towers; as well as solar lighting.

Every year, the Greyville racetrack hosts this historic and prestigious race meeting, an occasion when South African high society turns out in force to ‘see and be seen’ at this glittering event. The display of July fashions has become something of a South African legend.

Bennie advises that, to cater for all the visitors’ vehicles, the organisers have made extra space available on grounds near the racecourse. However, they found that these vehicles and their contents presented an attractive target for the unscrupulous.

This prompted police to warn racegoers to secure their vehicles and not leave valuables inside them. “As lighting serves as an effective deterrent, Rand-Air was contracted to provide the necessary equipment,” Bennie continues, adding that last year, the extra lighting covering the temporary parking and golf course proved to be very effective at protecting the many expensive vehicles.

The planning of the Durban July has to start well beforehand, and for this reason, six months prior to the event, the organisers contacted Rand-Air to book the necessary lighting. A week before the event, Rand-Air held a further meeting with the race organisers and Rand-Air’s Zane Hippolyte and Bennie carried out a site walk to finalise the planning and assist in strategically placing the units at the venue.

Hippolyte also did the setup on the Friday before the race after giving the mandatory ‘toolbox’ talk to the team. The organisers also provided Rand-Air with access to the arena, as on Saturdayhe had to carry out checks to ensure the units were running perfectly. “And on the day, apart from monitoring the equipment, Zane actually got to watch the Durban July in action,” Bennie continues.

The lighting units that Rand-Air provided feature the latest LED technology, which has the added advantage of being light on fuel, while providing excellent light coverage. On the day, they performed perfectly. Feedback from the race organisers was that they were more than satisfied with Rand-Air’s equipment and service. They commented that they would definitely be use the company’s services next year again.

“The Durban July involved the entire Durban team in one way or another; and Zane Hippolyte, Fieza Moodeen, Petros Mngoma, and Khula Mkhwanazi in particular,” says Durban Area Manager Rudi de Vry.

“The Durban July organisers were very impressed with our lighting towers and our service and support,” says Rand-Air Sales Representative Natlee Bennie.

“At the depot, there was a real buzz of excitement about the Durban July, and the cooperation between the various team members contributed to a sense of camaraderie.”

“The exposure that our lighting sets gave us at the race meeting has really been excellent. We have found that since the 2018 event, enquiries for our lighting towers have increased significantly, largely due to word-of-mouth,” de Vry says.

“We are very proud to have been selected to supply lighting to the Durban July and look forward to being able to ‘do it again’ in 2020,” he concludes.

Rand-Air’s customised containerised compressor helps customer bust the dust

One of the ways it is possible to exceed customer expectations is to produce effective and innovative solutions to the challenges that they contend with. When Rand-Air Business Development Manager Henry Fourie was faced with a dusty and demanding challenge, he needed to come up with a solution which would address the problem effectively.

The problem was that the customer manufactures an industrial mineral and, in so doing, produces a very fine, but exceptionally abrasive, dust. This would get into equipment such as compressors and forklifts and clog them up in a very short space of time.

What prompted the request from the manufacturer was the fact that they were upgrading and doubling the size of their plant. This new plant would produce an even finer product. However, they were experiencing downtime with their two existing compressors, which – as the plant works 24/7 – were essential for its operation. Faced with ongoing downtime, the manufacturer approached Rand-Air for a solution.

Fourie and his colleagues put their heads together and devised a plan. Although this specific solution was a first for Rand-Air, the team was prepared to develop the solution specifically to address this particular customer’s challenge.

The answer to the abrasive dust problem lay in placing the compressor into a specially designed, hermetically sealed housing – somewhat like a shipping container. This sealed housing was fitted with special filtered air intakes to make sure that none of external dust reached the compressor.

Air filtration is not a particular speciality of Rand-Air; however, to provide an effective solution in this instance, the Rand-Air team tested various air filtration solutions until they came up with one that was optimal.

“We put this proposal and the pricing structure to our customer, who was very pleased with the idea and accepted it,” says Fourie.

In October 2018, Rand-Air commissioned the construction of the compressor housing and its special filtration arrangement. “We had everything ready for delivery to site on December 21,” he explains.

The compressor that was supplied for this hire is an electrically-driven Atlas Copco GA132FF full-feature unit.

Rand-Air’s answer to a customer’s abrasive dust problem lay in placing a compressor in a specially designed, hermetically sealed housing fitted with special filtered air intakes.

To source the housing for this compressor, Rand-Air contracted a manufacturer of portable, insulated cold rooms and refrigerated truck bodies to build the housing for the GA132FF. This housing has special doors built into it to allow for the removal and replacement of the compressor if necessary. The container walls are constructed of a robust, waterproof aluminium board which has an interior filled with polystyrene foam. While it is designed to keep out fine silica quartz dust, it also protects the compressor against severe weather conditions and prevents unauthorised people gaining access to the compressor.

“In summer months, the insulation in the container walls will also protect the compressor against overheating,” says Fourie.

The fineness of the dust was an issue that Rand-Air had to deal with. “First of all, we installed two high-density filters which we believed would cope with the incoming particles. However, these filters clogged up very quickly; and so, to get around this, we installed lower density filters which, as part of our service to the customer, we change frequently. On the housing, there is an inlet for filtered air, and there is an outlet opposite it, to help dissipate heat. Over and above that, we have two extra filters on the container as well as an extraction fan.”

Asked about feedback from the customer, Fourie explains that they are very happy with their uninterrupted supply of compressed air.

“At Rand-Air, we are constantly aware that we are in a very competitive market and, to keep ahead, we have to be extremely innovative and ahead of the market. By doing this, we will continue to successfully differentiate ourselves in the eyes of our valued customers,” he concludes.

When zero is hero: Class 0 oil-free versus technically oil-free air

Oil-free compressed air is used throughout industry where the purest compressed air quality is critical to the end product and to the processes involved – such as in the pharmaceutical or food and beverage sectors, for example.

“As the leading provider of portable power and air solutions in the country, Rand-Air has the right solution for our customers, in that we are able to supply oil-free compressors which have a TUV Class 0 certification under the ISO 8573-1 standard. With this assurance, customers can have peace of mind that they are guaranteed 100% oil-free compressed air,” explains Rand-Air’s Fleet Manager Craig Swart.

L-R: Rand-Air’s Sales Manager, Kim Coetzee and Mpho Ngamlane, Industrial Plant Rental Account Manager together with a ZT 315 VSD oil-free compressor.

The evolution of this stringent standard reflects the ever-increasing requirement for quality air for processes and end products. Class 0 is a more stringent industry standard where the total oil content is measured – not only aerosols and liquids but vapours as well – by the internationally recognised TUV organisation.

Rand-Air sources its oil free compressors from Atlas Copco, which put these units through the most rigorous tests available; and which is now the first manufacturer to receive Class 0 Certification for all its oil-free products.

“However, in the field of air compressors, there are two terms which need to be understood – Class 0 and technically oil-free,” continues Swart. The latter term means that oil is injected into the compressed air and then removed afterwards using a filtration process. This involves an oil separator in the compressor, coalescing filters to remove most liquid oil, and then an activated carbon filter to remove oil vapours.

With technically oil-free compressors, during the filtration process failures can potentially occur – for example, separators can break and filters can become saturated. These factors are exacerbated when the operating temperatures are high. When using a technically oil-free system, there are also other issues to consider such as ensuring that filters are regularly changed, treatment of the condensate and higher energy costs.

“At Rand-Air, all our PT-, PN- and Z- range of compressors are Class 0 oil-free, TUV-certified and we have a range of oil-free compressors to suit most applications,” he adds.

“So if your requirement is for oil-free compressed air, one has to ask: “Why take the risk of potential damage to equipment or reputation?” A Class 0 oil-free compressor from Rand-Air is your optimal solution,” Swart concludes.