After a successful trial with Stannah Stairlifts, the UK’s leading stairlift manufacturer, Atlas Copco’s innovative energy-efficient GA VSD+ compressor is now providing vital 24/7 test lab air for the company’s R&D operations at its site in Andover, Hampshire.
Stannah Stairlifts is part of the Stannah Group, a long-standing British owned and family run company which has been established for almost 150 years. The Group employs 1,500 people and operates a worldwide enterprise with a turnover in excess of £200million. As the UK’s leading independent producer of passenger lifts and platform lifts it manufactures and distributes a portfolio of lifting products that includes elevators, escalators, goods lifts and stairlifts. As a long-term Atlas Copco customer Stannah Stairlifts was invited to trial a GA11 VSD+ rotary screw compressor powered by Atlas Copco’s own in-house designed interior permanent magnet motor (iPM). Atlas Copco already supplies compressed air to Stannah Stairlifts at four manufacturing and maintenance sites, for use in production line assembly air tools, machine tool equipment and workshop applications. The specific requirement of the new compressor was to provide quality air for the R&D laboratory test rig actuator valves, jigs and fixtures involved in product simulation testing at the Stannah Stairlifts site in Andover, where model prototypes are continually put through their paces 24/7.
As Austen Kirby, Stannah Stairlifts’ Maintenance Manager, explains: “This essential air supply was originally provided by a fixed-speed GA15 unit but when, as part of its Total Responsibility programme for the company, Atlas Copco Compressors recommended the advantages of a VSD, full-feature upgrade and an opportunity to trial their latest development, we had no hesitation in accepting their advice to replace the original machine with their GA11VSD+ FF model.”
The compressor’s performance during the trial period and its impressive energy savings potential persuaded Stannah Stairlifts to install the compressor as a permanent addition to the air supply plant. The machine is part of the new GA 7-15 kW VSD+ oil-injected, rotary screw compressor range, a totally new concept that has turned the compressed air industry on its head by redesigning the conventional layout of a typical air compressor. Instead of the normal horizontal design, the compressor has an upright, vertical, low footprint layout, designed to save floor and work space while improving maintenance access, even when the unit is placed against a wall.
Significantly, the new design offersexceptional energy savings. Atlas Copco’s GA Variable Speed Drive (VSD) technology automatically adjusts the motor speed to match the compressed air supply to demand. When combined with the innovative in-house design of the iPM permanent magnet motor, which corresponds to IE4 requirements, and the new more efficient fan motor, this results in an average energy saving of 50% and an average reduction of 37% in lifecycle cost compared to a conventional fixed-speed compressor. Furthermore, thanks to the silent motor and fully-enclosed drive train, the compressor runs as quietly as 62 dB(A)
Stannah Stairlifts’ new compressor installation is making a significant contribution to the high manufacturing standards of the company, which in 2011 produced its 500,000th stairlift. As Austen Kirby comments: “All of our products are manufactured in the UK and quality assured to ISO 9001. We are previous recipient of the ‘Best UK Manufacturing and Engineering Factory ‘award from the DTI. Continuing to maintain such high standards means investing in the best production equipment − that’s why we have always opted for Atlas Copco’s machines."