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Technology, Service, Parts & Maintenance

Planning for Future Plant Expansions


Have you ever thought about the importance of planning for the future? Maybe you’re planning to buy a new car, go on vacation or renovate the house. These future plans probably have you thinking about a timeline and the costs associated with each endeavor. In the same way you’re anticipating future social and economic needs, it’s also important to start planning for plant expansions to save time, money and headaches.

Future plant expansions

Anticipating future plant expansions can help you avoid overloading the initial compressed air distribution system. The more air that has to pass through the initial distribution piping, the higher the pressure drop between the compressors and points of use. The dynamics of the system’s air flow and pressures will also be affected.

What should you consider when it comes to system design?

  • System designs should allow for a minimum of 25 percent expansion in demand for compressed air by oversizing piping, valves and controls. Compressors should not be oversized, but they should be sized and selected with controls to allow operation at optimal efficiency with prevailing rates of flow.
  • When adding any end-use equipment, compressors or dryers, review the complete system for optimal locations.
  • Consider future equipment repairs and the possible need for a rental compressor. To accommodate a rental compressor, the primary receiver should have a connection and valve, in addition to the normal connections.
  • In matching assembly of components, consider the accumulation of tolerances for each part in the assembly. The same principle should be applied to a compressed air system.
  • The maximum and minimum flow rates experienced in actual operation may be dramatically different from the average flow rate.
  • The maximum flow rate should be used in selecting many components.
  • There may be times when several demand events occur simultaneously, which results in a demand well above average. Meanwhile, there may be times where there is a significant reduction in demand. These dynamics must be considered in the design of the system, storage volume, system controls and compressor controls.
  • Some plants operate three shifts per day with vastly different demands during each shift. Shift differences must be factored into the system design and selection of compressors and other equipment.

Planning ahead for future expansions will help you avoid unexpected costs, save time and properly size equipment for end uses. For questions or more information, reach out to an Atlas Copco expert.

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