Luis Alvarez
General Manager of Compressor Technologies
Atlas Copco
View from the Top

Impact of Air Compressors on Energy Efficiency

Wed, 02/19/2014 - 15:38

Q: Which products have positioned Atlas Copco as one of the leading suppliers of air compressors?

A: The only way to maintain market leadership is through innovation. This has been one of the main values driving our company since its creation back in 1873. Nowadays innovation implies energy efficiency, to which we have dedicated many products. Around 4-5% of our revenue is reinvested in research and development, to keep innovating our products and solutions. We are pioneers in the development of variable-speed drive (VSD) technology for air compressors. Although this is used for other products as well, we were the first compressor manufacturer to incorporate VSD technology. The technology was launched in 1994 and can represent up to 35% in energy savings.

Q: What are the main challenges that Atlas Copco faces in developing tailor-made solutions for Mexican clients?

A: One of the major challenges we have faced in Mexico is accessing a qualified labor force. Certain industries require complete packages of products and solutions, which have to be developed in the country. However, it has become difficult for us to find partners that meet our quality requirements. Partnering with foreign companies instead would have a negative impact on delivery times and costs.

Q: How does Atlas Copco help its customers reduce costs and improve efficiency?

A: Among the energy saving products we offer, we have a product called Smart Link. The main focus of Smart Link is to supervise and control the functioning of the air network. By reducing pressure by just one bar, we increase energy savings by 7%. All the products that we install for our customers in specific locations are able to communicate with the central supervisors and our own team via interconnected computer networks. This way, we can detect fluctuations in our customer’s air demands, enabling us to remotely suggest options that reduce costs and save energy. We are the first compressed air product manufacturer to offer an energy recovery unit in our portofolio, the principal focus of which is harnessing the heat produced in the compression process and using it for other purposes. Installing this product is easy. The more difficult part is convincing customers of its results.

Q: What is the importance of implementing energy efficiency solutions for the Mexican industry?

A: The best way to demonstrate this is by looking at what has been done in other countries. Those countries that have given more importance to energy efficiency are more productive. Energy efficiency solutions will aid Mexico’s economic growth, create more jobs and improve the general quality of life. If the government focuses on implementing proper and efficient energy use across industrial sectors, economic productivity will increase. Increasing awareness as to the importance of energy efficiency is a big step and a challenging task, but it will enable us to find more market opportunities. We want to contribute by helping our customers increase energy savings by 20% by 2020 and reduce energy consumption in their transportation operations by 20% over the same timeframe. We also want to stabilize the use of water within our clients’ operations, instead of seeing them increasing that use.

Q: In which sectors does Atlas Copco see the biggest potential for the application of its products and services?

A: Before the Energy Reform, the main sector was automotive. In 2013, 15% of our revenues came from the automotive industry, a sector that also accounts for the largest quantity of Mexican exports. Air compressors are used in many industries, but CFE is among our top four largest customers. With the electricity sector finally opening up to private investment, we will see a lot of investments being made. Small companies will become more involved in the market, and they will need air compressors for their new plants. We see a lot of opportunities opening up in the months ahead. If things go according to plan, the oil and gas sectors will acquire a lot of importance within Atlas Copco’s activities. As for the renewable energy sector, we also see a lot of potential in these growing industries, as they have a big need for air compressors.

Q: What are the main products and solutions that Atlas Copco is planning to roll out in the future?

A: Our future products and solutions are currently under development, but our main focus is and will be saving energy. Every day we work to improve our energy efficiency products. Small changes lead to big changes, so this is the main aim of our R&D.