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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.

Rand-Air’s Class 0 oil-free compressors – ‘coming clean’ about 100 % pure, contaminant-free air for pharmaceutical clean rooms

Compressed air is used extensively throughout all sectors of industry. However, in certain applications such as the pharmaceutical industry, it is crucial that the compressed air supplied is completely free of contaminants such as oil vapour, moisture and particulates.

“In particular, contaminant-free air is a requirement for the air supply to ‘clean rooms’ used in pharmaceutical manufacturing where, for obvious reasons, exceptionally stringent hygiene regulations apply,” explains Rand-Air’s Fleet Manager Craig Swart.

Clean rooms require large volumes of air – usually at a controlled temperature and humidity. This means that in most facilities, the cleanrooms Air Handling Units (AHUs) consume over 60% of all the site power. As a general rule of thumb, the cleaner the cleanroom needs to be, the more air the AHU will need to use. To reduce the expense of modifying the ambient temperature or humidity, AHUs are designed to recirculate (if product characteristics permit) about 80% air through the room, removing particulate contamination as is it generated, while simultaneously keeping the temperature and humidity stable.

Pharmaceutical manufacturers need to protect their hard-won reputations by adhering to guidelines such as those outlined in international codes International Standard ISO 14644, Cleanrooms and controlled environments-Part 1: Classification of air cleanliness, and Part 2: Specifications for testing and monitoring to prove continued compliance with ISO 14644-1.

Rand-Air’s Sales Manager, Kim Coetzee and staff member together with the ZT 315 VSD oil-free compressor

To achieve the above compliance, these manufacturers need to employ the latest technology, such as certified Class 0 oil-free compressors. These will ensure their processing systems remain contaminant-free at all times – as only Class 0 oil-free compressors can guarantee total air purity in pharmaceutical processing.

A pioneer in oil-free compressor technology, Atlas Copco has set the standard for contamination-free compressed air in the pharmaceutical industry. The first compressor manufacturer to achieve ISO 8573-1 (2010) Class 0 clean air (the most stringent classification), Atlas Copco compressors ensure that the compressed air in pharmaceutical production processes is free from any oils which could compromise quality of the pharmaceuticals produced.

Oil-free compressed air is used throughout industry where air quality is critical to the end product and processes. “Rand-Air has the right solution in that it is able to supply  pharmaceutical manufacturers’ clean rooms with oil-free compressors, which have a TUV Class 0 certification according to the ISO 8573-1 standard. With this assurance, pharmaceutical manufacturers can have peace of mind that they are guaranteed fully sterile and hygienic, 100% oil-free compressed air,” continues Swart.

The evolution of this stringent standard reflects the ever-increasing need for quality air for manufacturing processes and end-products. Class 0 is a more stringent 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.

“At Rand-Air, we have a range of oil-free compressors to suit most applications and requirements,” says Rand-Air’s Sales Manager Kim Coetzee.

“So if the manufacturing requirement is for oil-free compressed air for an environment such as a clean room, one has to ask: ‘Why take the risk of damage to reputation and to the health of others by using anything else?’ A Class 0 oil-free compressor from Rand-Air is ideal for the pharmaceutical industry, and for all clean room-applications in particular,” she concludes.

Rand-Air oil-free compressors assist luxury motor vehicle manufacturer’s ‘drive’ to achieve a perfect finish

For any company it is gratifying when customers request repeated service. When that customer is of the calibre of a well-known luxury motor vehicle manufacturer, it is a very sound endorsement indeed!

Leading local provider of portable air and power Rand-Air was recently requested to hire two diesel oil-free compressors to a local facilities management company, for use at the end-customer’s local motor vehicle manufacturing plant.

The vehicle manufacturer’s plant has become the nerve centre of the company’s South African operations. Over the past four decades, it moved from operating as a production plant assembling vehicles with limited customisation possibilities for the local market only, to a world-class facility, capable of producing customised cars for discerning customers across the globe.

“Although the hire was to the facilities management customer, the request for our services came from their customer in turn; to which we have hired compressors a number of times previously,” says Marinda Enslin, the Rand-Air Sales Representative responsible for this particular hire.

“The customer required two of our largest Atlas Copco 1500 cfm compressors over a period of some two weeks.

We immediately sprang into action, and were able to deliver the compressors the same day that they were requested,” she says, pointing out that the compressors are noteworthy in that they are truly oil-free.

A PTS 800 oil-free compressor from Rand-Air.

“This is something which was vital for this end-customer, as the compressed air is being used by the automotive manufacturer’s paint shop,” she explains.

“While other companies might offer oil-free compressors, their air output does not have the same 100% contaminant-free air quality which our Class-0-rated oil-free compressors have.

A contaminant in the paint could have very serious consequences,” Enslin points out.

“With the number of vehicles that are produced at the plant, were a contaminant to find its way into the paint, the consequences for the manufacturer could be serious indeed.

With a production capability of up to 75 000 units a year, and over 85% of all vehicles produced destined for the end-customer’s international markets in the USA, Taiwan, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia, Sub-Saharan Africa and Canada, the South African plant has to meet the highest international quality standards,” she elaborates.

The two oil-free Rand-Air compressors allowed the plant to continue manufacturing motor vehicles while its own compressor was out of service for extended maintenance.

Before the compressors were delivered to the plant, they were first scrupulously checked by Rand-Air’s skilled technicians.

“No machine goes out of our yards unless it has been through a rigorous checking schedule,” she continues, adding that with all Rand-Air machines, when they reach a certain number of operating hours they are automatically replaced. “This way our customers, when they hire from us, have an ‘as new’ rental experience,” she adds.

With this particular hire – as with all others – the customer has the peace of mind of knowing that if there is any sort of issue with the rental, Rand-Air staff are contactable around-the-clock, 7 days a week, to deliver a solution. 

“I have been with Rand-Air for 21 years now, and all my regular customers have my phone number. If there’s an issue, they can phone me at 2 am in the morning and we will have a technician on the road immediately to ensure our machines continue to deliver consistent, quality and safe service,” she emphasises.

When the two compressors were delivered to the motor vehicle manufacturer’s facility, they were also accompanied by a Rand-Air technician who made sure the coupling of the compressors to the plant’s reticulation went smoothly. 

“However, because we supplied diesel compressors, connecting them was a very simple ‘plug and play’ operation,” Enslin explains.

Asked about customer feedback, she explains that the company was very happy with the standard of Rand-Air’s reliable equipment and excellent service.

“While we are always pleased to be of service to a prestigious company such as this, we make a point of offering the same standard to all our customers irrespective of who they are. Ultimately, it makes us very proud when our customers look to us to sustain the productivity of their operations,” Enslin concludes.

Rand-Air long-term equipment hire an ‘ore-some’ cost-saver for mining operations

Mines require a range of hire equipment from time to time. Precisely what equipment is needed depends on the type of mine, explains Rand-Air’s Business Development Manager for Long Term Rental, Henry Fourie. For instance, on an open-pit mine, generators and lighting plant are most frequently hired. “Some of the mining contractors also use our high-pressure diesel compressors for exploration as well as blast-hole drilling,” he explains.

On surface during shaft sinking, the mines use electric 1,500 cfm machines. Once the mine is established, then Rand-Air is also capable of supplying air from surface for the underground mining operations to power rock drills of various types. “For this, a popular choice is the 1070cfm electric machines which we have supplied in various quantities, from as few as two units up to 10 units on a compressor bank,” he continues.

Rand-Air also has specially modified electric units for use underground. A major deep-level gold mine, for example, will have a two kilometre deep shaft down to a certain mine level. And then from the shaft, it can be as far as a kilometre or more to the rock face where drilling is actually happening. Many older South African mines have been in existence for decades; and, over time, the compressed air pipe systems have deteriorated, allowing air to escape and pressure to dissipate from numerous leaks before air actually reaches the driller.

In these cases, it pays the mine to place a rental compressor at a location close to the working stopes. The miners then benefit from air at the correct pressure, which invariably gives a very substantial boost to productivity.

Some of South Africa’s older mines also have fairly elderly surface compressors feeding air underground. With these compressors, there is a much greater chance of periodic failures which can take some time to repair. During these periods, hire compressors can play a cardinal role in keeping the mine operational.

Regarding efficiencies, electric motors used to power large installed mine compressors and generators consume a substantial amount of diesel. Being able to switch these large machines off and source air or power from smaller hire units – particularly in winter when electricity rates are high – can be highly beneficial from a cost point of view.

Asked what hire period constitutes a long-term rental, Fourie explains that there is no given period – although the minimum is usually 12 months, which can be extended to some years. With longer rental periods, Rand-Air will give the mine an option to renew the rental contract if it so wishes. “We have one mining company on our books who has had long-term rental equipment from us for 12 years,” explains Fourie.

Long-term rentals come with the benefit of a lower rate to the mine. With long term rentals, Rand-Air offers very favourable service level agreements which it takes pride in honouring. “Our rapid response times, which we take pride in meeting, form a key part of these agreements,” continues Fourie.

A further factor in favour of long-term rentals is that the mine does not have to employ skilled people specifically to service and maintain compressors or generators.

The challenge that faces Rand-Air with long-term rentals is that production pressures on mines are invariably immense – and both men and machinery sometimes have to work in exceptionally harsh environments. However, with both short-term and long-term rentals, customers are always assured of a Rand-Air machine that will look and perform as well as a brand-new unit.

There are many benefits to mines hiring equipment on a long-term basis from Rand-Air

Rand-Air sales representatives are assiduous in supporting both short-term and long-term rentals. Should a customer ever experience difficulty with a rental unit, the Rand-Air staff member concerned is prepared to field calls from the mine – even in the middle of the night. If need be, after such a call, the sales representative will phone a technician on-call who will immediately drive to the mine and rectify any issues forthwith.

In terms of any responsibility the mines have for Rand-Air’s hire equipment on a long-term rental, Fourie explains that, apart from not intentionally damaging the machines, they have none. “Rand-Air takes full responsibility for maintenance as we pride ourselves on our service levels, response times and knowledge of our equipment,” he explains.

Depending on the number of machines on site, Rand-Air will have a dedicated staff member on site to ensure continuous faultless functioning of any hire equipment.

Regarding whether Rand-Air carries out long-term hire contracts outside of South Africa, Fourie explains that the company has done this in the past where it serviced a Botswana mine from South Africa. However, further afield, Rand-Air would look to its parent company Atlas Copco to service long term contracts.

“Anyone who works in the mining environment will know what a challenging environment it is in which to meet demanding production targets,” asserts Fourie.

“So having someone to provide trouble-free compressed air, power or lighting benefits the mine in every way. Should the mine expand, and it needs more equipment, this is a phone call away without having to find additional capital first.

Rand-Air’s contaminant and oil-free air makes for good medicine

In the process of manufacturing pharmaceuticals, every input into the final products has to be scrupulously hygienic and sterile, from the start to the end of the manufacturing process.

Leaders in the rental of portable air and power solutions Rand-Air is proud to have been able to contribute to South Africa’s pharmaceutical manufacturing industry this year. The company supplied an Atlas Copco ZT315VSD oil-free air compressor to Adcock Ingram, a major South African pharmaceutical manufacturer, listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange which manufactures, markets and distributes a wide range of healthcare products and is a key supplier to both the private and public sectors.

Rand-Air Marketing Manager Byrone Thorne explains how this came about: “Towards the end of last year, Rand-Air’s Business Development Manager for Long Term Rental, Henry Fourie approached the customer, as the pharmaceutical industry is an important vertical target sector for us. He established that, at Adcock Ingram’s Steriles and Critical Care Manufacturing facility in Aeroton, there was a requirement for a standby compressor.

Adcock Ingram’s Aeroton facility plays a key role in South Africa’s pharmaceutical supply chain, producing a range of intravenous fluids, renal dialysis products, LVPs (large volume parenterals) and SVPs (small volume parenterals);  as well as medical-grade sheeting for steriles and blood collection bags.

“In spite of some competitor competition, Henry pressed home the advantage of our successful track record in terms of the provision of reliability, safety, quality and superior customer service – and won the order,” Thorne adds.

Rand-Air supplied an Atlas Copco ZT315VSD oil-free air compressor to the major South African pharmaceutical manufacturer Adcock Ingram…

The pharmaceuticals facility currently has its own two centrifugal compressors, which supply oil-free air. This high-purity oil-free compressed air is fed into an extensive stainless steel piping installation which prevents rust formation, oil carry-over or other contamination. “The Atlas Copco ZT315VSD with its 1,557 cubic feet a minute, 8.6 bar supply is eminently suitable for this application as it supplies completely contaminant- and oil-free air,” Thorne adds.


“In this instance, we did not supply a dryer as Adcock Ingram’s takes the feed from our compressor through their own in-house dryer. While the ZT315VSD is a standby unit, in the event of an operational issue with one of the in-house centrifugal compressors, the Atlas Copco ZT315VSD would take over the supply of compressed air with minimum disruption to the facility’s manufacturing capability.

The unit is well-suited for the rigorous 24/7 duty cycle required by the customer; and its output is critical in ensuring uninterrupted production. The rental supply contract is for a period of three years.

An absolutely reliable supply of completely contaminant and oil-free compressed air is essential for pharmaceutical high-speed mixing processes – and also for blending, packaging and the in-house water plant which produces the water, combined with active ingredients used to make drugs that are injected into our bodies. This water is also used as the final rinsing agent for any component that comes in contact with the drug such as vials, ampules, caps and stoppers.


With the Atlas Copco ZT315VSD, the lead-time from order to delivery was a comparatively short period of 14 weeks, and the unit was modified as per the customer’s requirements.

While the customer has the responsibility to make sure that the compressor is suitably located and secure, Rand-Air’s high-quality service and maintenance service is all part of the package. Furthermore, in the unlikely event that the customer experiences any issues, Rand-Air will be on hand to supply a replacement unit in the interim. “So it really is a hassle-free service,” asserts Thorne.

“We were pleased with the way the installation went and are happy to have this extra standby capacity,” says Adcock Ingram Process Improvement Project Engineer Johan Bredenkamp.

“This is very much in line with Rand-Air’s rental ethos, where the customer is given the freedom to concentrate on their core business while leaving the responsibility for the provision of essential, contaminant and oil-free compressed air to us,” he concludes.

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