Technology, Vacuum Pumps

Centralized VSD Vacuum Meets Demand, Saves Money


When Pittsburg-based architectural products manufacturer Forms+Surfaces expanded to Phoenix, Arizona, the company didn’t anticipate the rapid growth they would soon experience.

“We originally purchased two buildings side-by-side,” said Joe Gatterdam, managing director of VividGlass, a division of Forms+Surfaces. “Within a few years we were running out of room and decided to purchase another building. Our facilities in Phoenix are now over 155,000 square feet, and we’re still growing.”

Forms+Surfaces designs and produces numerous architectural products found in public spaces across the world. From airports to universities, restaurants to hotels, the company creates products that appear in walls, columns, elevators and lighting systems of places we explore and engage with every day.

Forms+Surfaces creates high-quality products using a sophisticated array of manufacturing methods. A few of these processes, including Bonded Metal manufacturing, systems applications manufacturing and CNC milling operations, require vacuum. Originally, each of these manufacturing systems had separate vacuum pumps.

“Atlas Copco designed a central vacuum system to serve all our buildings and processes,” said Gatterdam “We also created a piping network to distribute vacuum to drops for the router and each table.”

Atlas Copco specified a GHS 350 VSD+ pump to produce high vacuum pressure and two GHS 730 VSD+ pumps in series to produce very high vacuum volume for infusion applications. The high-pressure pump provides hold down pressure on the CNC router and for certain applications of the bonded metal product. All of these Atlas Copco vacuum pumps are Variable Speed Drive units that generate vacuum to meet flow demand in real time

“Variable speed drive vacuum has significantly improved our process,” said Gatterdam. “We work for 16 hours a day, five days a week. Before VSD, our 12-vacuum system ran constantly. Now, we can automatically wind down with the drop in demand. Our vacuum stays energized the whole time.”

The adjustable demand helped the facility save money. With three pumps that run from a central location to meet demand, Forms+Surfaces decreased energy costs and earned a utility rebate of about $5,400.

Does your process use centralized VSD vacuum? Tell us about the improvements you’ve seen by utilizing vacuum that adjusts to demand. Still operating a facility with numerous decentralized vacuums? Contact our experts today to discuss improvements for your system.

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