EQUIPMENT ANALYSIS: MOBILE COMPRESSORS - UNITED KINGDOM (February 2014)
Off-Highway Research's Equipment Analyses are a rigorous evaluation of the structure and development of demand for one product in the UK, France, Germany and Italy in the European Service, and in China and India.
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This report concerns the UK market for mobile compressors, and is an update of the subject which was last covered in Off-Highway Research's European Service in April 2010. The mobile compressors concerned have rated air outputs from 1.5m3/min to 45m3/min and are powered by diesel engines with ratings from 10 to 400 horsepower. The industry traditionally uses ft3/min (cfm) as its measure of output, and all suppliers utilise this measurement on their product literature, whereas in the rest of Europe m3/min is the standard measurement of output. The conversion rate is 1cfm = 0.0283m3/min.
In the distant past, two types of mobile compressor were sold in the UK, the rotary sliding vane and the helical screw types. The former was based on a very old design and production ceased in 1996, although a significant number are still working; all new mobile compressors sold are now of the helical screw type.
The helical screw type compresses air between the teeth of two rotating screws. The two helical screws, or rotors, comprising a male with five lobes, and a female with six flutes, operate in a sealed chamber. Air enters through a port at the drive end and is compressed the space between the lobes and flutes as they rotate. Some screw designs require an oil pump to lubricate the rotors, cooling the air during compression and acting as an internal seal, whereas others do not. There are differences between manufacturers in the way the screws are driven; for example, the female rotor can be driven by the engine, requiring the male rotor to go 50 per cent faster; alternatively, the male rotor can be driven, which requires the female to rotate more slowly, which is claimed to induce less stress between the rotors.
The findings presented in this report are based on in-depth interviews with the leading suppliers of mobile compressors, together with Off-Highway Research’s own existing database. The industry trade association, the British Compressed Air Society (BCAS), collates members’ returns to produce sales statistics for activity within the sector.