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Staving Off The Future

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hes aug 18 16Staving Off The Future

The innovative design of the HST (high speed turbo) compressor ensures that it runs at maximum energy efficiency through continuous upgrades – by retrofitting improved components as they become available. Mark Whitmore of BOGE explains.

There’s a term used by industrial suppliers that is guaranteed to make the blood boil for many of their potential buyers: ‘future-proofing’. The phrase is used – and, of course, mis-used – all too often. (Read More)


It’s fair to say that no system is truly future proof: take a second to think about how far electronic equipment – from mobile devices all the way through to industrial automation – has come in just five years, then consider how well some of those devices would cope today, next to the latest model.

The phrase ‘future proof’ is so grating because modern technology moves so fast that its longevity cannot be guaranteed – because a truly improved version may soon become available. Further investment may then be needed, in order to compete.

One way round this is to design equipment to be continuously upgraded. Here, the original design is flexible enough to accommodate updates – rather than needing wholesale replacement – in order to extend operational life, even in the face of changing business requirements over a long period of time.

Compressed advantage

A good example is the latest generation of high speed turbo (HST) compressors from BOGE, which are designed to be easily upgraded – by retrofitting new parts as they become available. This extends the compressor’s operating life, while reducing maintenance intervals. It also allows compressor suppliers to offer innovative upgrade charging models – linking upgrades to energy savings – which helps the user to absorb ongoing costs more easily.

The HST already has a ground breaking design: it is oil-free, runs at very high speeds, boasts high levels of energy efficiency and runs very quietly – all with minimal need for maintenance. The ability to lengthen its working life through planned upgrades is a further innovation.

For instance, at the heart of an HST compressor is an air shaft, and a permanent magnet motor that drives an application-specific impellor system. This arrangement can slash energy consumption, but there may still be room for improvement in future as new technology emerges.

BOGE calls this approach its Continuous Improvement Programme (CIP): it frees owners from the expense, risk and inconvenience of compressor optimisation. Instead, BOGE guarantees that, if a more efficient configuration becomes available during the lifetime of the installation, it will make these changes with no cost to the owner.

One option is for the cost of any upgrade to be covered by the energy savings that are achieved by the upgrade itself. This has proved popular with users, as they are effectively receiving the upgrade at a discount – through reduced energy bills.

This is a huge bonus for compressor owners: compressed air is vital to manufacturing – though can be expensive. In some industries, air compressors are the largest single consumer of energy. Anything that can improve their efficiency will have a huge effect on the bottom line.

Industry 4.0

CIP taps into the emerging trend of Industry 4.0, where data is gathered, analysed and used to improve performance. Here, CIP works by using the internet-connected monitoring and diagnostic capabilities built into the HST control system. Once installed, the compressor logs its own performance and energy consumption, and sends the information to BOGE via a secure system.

The system’s efficiency is then evaluated and compared with the best available performance. The customer is then sent regular reports showing how well the system is working, and outlines changes in operation or configuration that could boost efficiency.

For example, if the customer’s demand for compressed air has changed significantly, the company may recommend upsizing or downsizing components as a way of raising efficiency. Similarly, if BOGE has developed a more efficient component since the compressor was installed, it can be retrofitted – if simulation shows that this will have a positive effect.

CIP is currently based on series components, with customers receiving the most suitable parts and modules from a standard range. However, work is underway to refine this with the aim of providing fully customized components – which are engineered to meet the precise needs of each individual customer, and made using laser metal additive manufacturing and other ‘agile production techniques’.

This type of arrangement is still not future proof – nothing is, really – but it does the best possible job of staving off the future, and extending compressor lifetime while continuing to raise its efficiency.

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