Sometimes lab tests are not enough. To verify the durability and quality of new portable compressor models, Atlas Copco brings them up in the mountains for some spectacular high-altitude tests.
Portable air compressors are used in a wide range of areas, from mountain well-drilling to creating deep sea air curtains. Atlas Copco’s portable compressors are designed to withstand the toughest conditions, like extreme temperatures, high altitudes, rust, sand and ash. Before a new model is launched, it is tested and verified in laboratory environments to ensure full reliability once it is in operation at customer sites.
But sometimes lab tests are not enough. The atmospheric pressure, oxygen levels and extreme cold seen in high altitudes are best tested in the field. Each year, Atlas Copco therefore performs high altitude tests for new portable compressor models, in order to verify their durability, performance and quality.
In 2019, three new models were tested in the Kunlun Mountains in China, where temperature drops significantly at night. To best simulate the everyday conditions experienced by customers once the machine is in use, the compressors were placed at an altitude of 4,500 meters.
The day before the first test, the first heavy snow of the season unexpectedly fell and temperatures plummeted. After a very cold night the compressor looked frozen, and everyone held their breaths as the start button was pressed. One second…two seconds…three seconds... Then the engine roared and quickly reached full speed, without any preheating device which earlier has been a required and costly feature in cold temperatures.
After loading, unloading and testing several different working conditions, the compressor clearly met all predefined objectives and quality requirements. It could then be transported back to the factory to undergo further analysis and endurance tests.
When testing the two other models, the team suffered from more extreme climate, including a hailstone sandstorm. “The bad weather conditions undoubtedly made the tests more difficult, but now we know for certain that our machines will perform also in extremely bad conditions. It was also great to see how the test team took on this challenge, to bring our customers the best possible quality,” says Test Technician Xue Lin Cheng.
The test required close collaboration between Atlas Copco’s local project management, testing, logistics and sourcing teams. For example, the compressors had to be transported for 3,000 kilometers from the production facility in Wuxi.
The models were launched in the second half of 2019, mainly to customers in mainland China, South America and South-East Asia.