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Efficient compressed air treatment

Cloud solution captures and visualises compressor and compressed air system data
Digital transparency on compressed air treatment

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There is considerable demand in the market for forward-looking digitalisation of processes related to compressed air treatment. This calls for innovative and user-oriented solutions that support increasingly networked machines as well as Internet of Things technologies. There is no alternative for users seeking maximum possible transparency on their compressed air treatment processes or on their compressed air quality in everyday operations.

Industrial companies that use compressed air in their production processes need maximum possible transparency when it comes to compressed air treatment. The chemical and pharmaceutical industries in particular demand to be informed about compressed air quality at all times to be able to react quickly to deviations. This is because compressed air is employed in many sensitive applications and often comes into contact with the product directly – from tabletting or cleaning systems and containers through component transport and packaging systems to air curtains for defining safe and clean areas. In order to ensure safe and stable processes and products, companies in this sector are reliant on a constant supply of absolutely oil-free and sterile compressed air. The compressed air quality must be comprehensively monitored for this purpose.

Seamless quality control

If the compressed air is contaminated by oil particles, germs or moisture, for example, this can have a decisive influence on the manufacturing process and cause considerable damage. Contaminated compressed air in tablet production can lead to breakage or colour variations and pose health risks for end users. To guarantee safe applications, it is important to treat the compressed air using filtration, drying and catalysis technology and monitor it continuously.

Pfizer Manufacturing Deutschland GmbH is a pharmaceutical company which relies on continuous quality controls of compressed air. The medium is in direct contact with the drug during coating, i. e. when the protective layer is sprayed onto film tablets, as well as during blow-out processes on production machines. Pfizer monitors the residual oil content using measurement technology with an integrated alarm system, enabling countermeasures to be initiated before the defined limit values are exceeded and resulting in higher overall process reliability.

Monitoring the compressed air system

Intelligent measurement technology provides companies using compressed air
in their production processes with the transparency they need to manufacture safely and reliably. Measuring systems from Beko Technologies GmbH, for example, let users continuously record key compressed air parameters such as residual oil vapour content, pressure and relative humidity and keep an eye on the compressed air quality at all times. They can then react quickly to any quality deviations and design more energy-efficient compressed air systems overall. They are supported by individually adjustable alarm functions, which forward important information via various channels such as text messaging or e-mail.

When monitoring compressed air quality and setting up an efficient treatment process, it is vital to take a holistic view of the compressed air system – including the compressor required for compressed air generation. This is because oil-lubricated and even oil-free compressors can be a source of residual oil vapours in the compressed air network. Although a compressor which compresses without oil does not allow any additional oil to enter the compressed air network, it also does not afford absolute safety since impurities such as oil aerosols or microorganisms are already contained in the intake air or can get into the compressed air network through other components. “Against this background, as a specialist for compressed air treatment and monitoring, we have once again addressed the central issue of optimum transparency in the compressed air treatment process”, says Yannick Koch, Head of Global Corpo-rate Development at Beko Technologies.

Data assistant enables full control

The company, based in Neuss (Germany), has consequently expanded its measurement technology solutions with Metpoint MEQ, thus taking a further step towards energy efficiency and digital transparency. The data assistant not only records the data of the treatment plant but also the energy and performance data of the upstream compressors. The system measures the real current consumption at these compressors by means of current clamps, making it possible to record compressor energy consumption in real time and demonstrate efficiency increases transparently in the entire compressed air system.

Together with the information from the compressed air quality sensors, all data is visualised in a cloud GUI. Users can hence check the condition of their compressed air system anywhere at any time and retain full control over the system and compressor data. If required, an automated energy or quality report can be called up at the touch of a button in order to analyse the efficiency potential. Compressor operating hours can also be viewed centrally. Servicing and maintenance cycles can be planned more
efficiently as a result with the help of automated reports and notification functions.

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Yannick Koch, Head of Global Corporate Development at Beko Technologies
Picture: Beko

Interview:   Metpoint MEQ data assistant

Mr. Koch, Beko Technologies has added the Metpoint MEQ data assistant to its measurement technology family. How did this idea come about?

Koch: The idea for the product originated in an interdisciplinary working group called Products & Services 2020 and led us to consider how best to provide compressed air users with maximum possible transparency on their compressed air preparation process while leveraging the opportunities arising from digitisation. This thought process resulted in a cloud so-lution that was unveiled at this year’s Comvac in Hannover.

What does the “Q” in the product name stand for?

Koch: The aim of comprehensive compressed air treatment, which we enable with our solutions, is always to ensure the compressed air quality required for a particular application – hence the “Q” in the product name. The quality of compressed air and continuous monitoring play an important role for our customers because they have an enormous influence on their manufacturing processes and the quality of their end products.

The new measuring technology system is characterised in particular by a holistic view of compressor and compressed air treatment system and a digital alignment. How did you consider these aspects in the development of the solution?

Koch: We cooperated with experts from the energy and compressor sectors during the development process and bundled their expertise with our know-how. About two and a half years passed from the idea to the market-ready product in line with our quality standards. Apart from developing an intelligent measurement system, we also wanted to offer our customers even better service. We therefore addressed aspects such as mobile connectivity, software as a service and online support in the course of the development project. The digitally oriented business model which was the outcome of all this meets customers’ need for self-information independent of place and time as well as support on demand.


Author: Friederike Wagner

Freelance specialised
journalist

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