Air compressor history
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The purpose of this page is to try and help people understand the basics of air compressors and compressed air systems.
As you will see as you go through this site, we are a small very focused company who are happy to deal with the small companies and people who have only a limited idea of their needs.
Air compressors are one of the most misunderstood subjects that I have come across and as they are a vital part of many companies equipment, then a few words of wisdom might help you.
It does not matter whether you are a one man band in a garden shed or a large PLC - if you get it wrong it will be a disaster.
Actually, I have some really nice one man bands on my books and they often listen to good advice - you would be amazed at the high quality compressors some of them have. After all if you buy an expensive piece of cnc equipment you don't want to wreck it all with hot, wet compressed air. Also, noise is a factor, not many people want a noisy air compressor banging away in the corner, today's working environment needs better than that. We also know of some very large companies with very tired compressed air systems and are a disaster waiting to happen.
So let us look at a typical application
A small company with say 3 people on the shop floor, needing air for a couple of cnc lathes and various applications, or maybe a small car body shop.
They will need compressed air, say 30cfm and a pressure of 10bar. A new cheap piston air compressor from your high street tool store will cost about £1.5K. It will make crude, hot, oily, nasty, wet air - very noisily - and not for very long. Of course that's not the worst scenario, it could be a 3year old version of the above from everyone's favourite auction site for £500. Ask your cnc equipment suppliers if that quality of air is ok for your machines - I don't think so.
So you need something quiet and producing nice dry quality air and this is where the problems begin. Firstly you will need more than a basic air compressor; that only makes the air. You need to treat the air to get it into a useable condition, it will need drying, filtering and the storing in a suitable receiver. Then you have to control it and get it to its point of use.
Types of Air Compressors available
Piston air compressors in general terms are classed as better than nothing - just better than nothing. That is unless you have a quality piston compressor, but not many people buy these. As an example a new "cheapy" from your friendly store might be £500, a quality unit of the same size would be £1500+. So a cheap larger unit at £1K would be £3K for a quality one. New or used cheap piston air compressors in my opinion are best in the bottom of a skip - buy a good one and it will be ok - call us for prices on our Air-Zone range - the best you can buy and with up to a 3 year warranty - Superb.
That leaves us with the two most popular types of industrial air compressor, Vane and Screw Compressors.
Probably the best know is Hydrovane but there are several other makes available, some of which are not so good. Air quality is usually good, you will also need an air tank and you may need a dryer.
We carry a good range of rebuilt Hydrovanes and probably on of the biggest stocks of parts for older machines on the planet. They are in the main reasonably reliable but if they have been abused then you can expect trouble.
Be very careful if buying used, especially if it has no proper warranty with it. We sell rebuilt units with up to 3yrs warranty - no one else will offer you that.
These can be really nice units, and are very popular. But be warned - if they are old and tired they can be a nightmare and very very expensive to put right and very unreliable. So if it looks a little tired - walk away.
Its not all bad news though
Providing that the compressor is in good order, with a service history and you can see it running, then you stand a chance of success. But if its a tired old beast, bought from somewhere like Ebay and it can't be seen running because its stored on a farm with no power - or such like story, then you have no chance of success at all. Also another persons interpretation of a good machine 'Honest 'Guv' and what you are wanting to do might be two worlds apart.
Lets buy new then
Well your chances of success are getting better now, so long as you make the right choice, we talk about this in more depth on another page. We sell some really nice new air compressors and that's the best solution without a doubt. It doesn't have to be new or nothing, but new is best.
Air tanks, dryers, filter etc.
You will need to store the air and a good receiver with a current air certificate is the answer. A refrigerant dryer will be the answer if you need dry air and some good quality filters to make a good job of it.
Gone are the days of air lines trailing all over the floor, it is dangerous and does not meet HSE guidelines. You may need a steel pipe system fitting, we also fit in plastic for some applications.
Health and Safety, COSHH and Certificates
It is illegal to use an unsafe air compressor system and by law you are responsible to ensure that you have the correct installation and certificates.
Probably 75% of all systems in use today do not comply with the latest regulations and factory inspectors are busy enforcing these regulations and bringing the worst cases to court. Fines are considerable and they have the power to put a prohibition order on your system.
With proper advice you will be ok, but without, or on your own, you could soon get into serious trouble.
We offer a full fitting and certification service with all our installations and can advise as required.
Consider this if you already have an air compressor of some description with an air tank. Can you lay your hand on a current air certificate, not the one it came with 5 years ago, but a current one? Or do you have a WSE for any fixed air pipes in your factory. Well if not don't tell any one, just ring myself on 07904 - 471183 for help and advice or some other suitably qualified person. Don't leave it as you are probably running illegally.
So as you can see there is a little more to this than meets the eye, but there are a few people around like myself who can help and advise you. If you need any help or advice we can offer from basic advice to a complete installation anywhere UK.
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