Accord Healthcare (Accord), an international leader in the development, manufacture, and distribution of pharmaceutical products, has upgraded the compressed air systems for its Fawdon site in the UK to two oil-free Ultima compressors from CompAir, with a staggering £58,000 energy saving achieved in the first year.

The upgrade is in line with Accord’s environmental goals to ensuring its operations are as sustainable as possible, with a key commitment being to reduce its total energy usage and water consumption by 25 per cent by 2025 across all Accord manufacturing sites.

The manufacturing facility in Fawdon, Newcastle, had been completely shut down in 2015, but a new commitment to domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing meant Accord acquired and re-opened the site in 2018. To breathe life back into the historical manufacturing facility, investment in new infrastructure and equipment was needed. A key element to building the site back up again was restoring compressed air and providing an efficient, up-to-date solution, which could also realise potential energy savings.

Accord inherited the site’s previously installed compressors when acquiring the facility, and it was one of the first projects to be tackled. The majority of on-site machinery is driven by compressed air, including conveyor systems, control systems and valves.

Kyle Storey, Engineering Team Lead at Accord, explained: “We use compressed air for virtually everything on site. In essence, if we lost compressed air, all our heating systems would shut down and production would stop. In terms of critical utilities, compressed air is on par with electricity and water. I can’t imagine the pressure that I would be under if a system was to fail.”

The two inherited compressors were over-sized and old. After discovering the compressors were no longer supported by the manufacturer, the decision was made to go to tender and consider variable speed options. Accord spoke to different providers, but Ultima technology from CompAir distributor Direct Air stood out, after being recommended for the company’s Barnstaple site.

Direct Air conducted a thorough site survey, including data logging the previous compressed air system. Of the existing compressors, one had suffered failure to both the main and fan inverter drives, so would need significant expenditure to fix. And due to the failure, compressed air was being delivered to the facility from the other fixed speed compressor. Due to low air consumption compared to the size of the compressor, it was heavily off-loaded, resulting in wasted energy. 

The data logged reported annual levels of wasted energy of 335,824 kW/h, equating to an annual cost of £27,000.

With reliable compressed air vitally important, new compressor technology was the best solution. Direct Air recommended two water-cooled U75 Ultima compressors, with a closed cooling water system and airblast cooler. The second U75 compressor would act as a stand-by machine.