Anyway the Wind Blows - Mabey Bridge
Mabey Bridge is a leading specialist supplier of high quality steel bridging, tubular structures and heavy plated steelwork which has helped to shape infrastructure development in the UK and around the world.
Based in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, just a ‘stone’s throw’ from the Severn Bridge, Mabey Bridge is proud of its 165 years of design and engineering tradition and enjoys a reputation for innovation in engineering and in particular, bridge building. Working in partnership with designers, engineers, contractors and clients in both the public and private sectors, it currently has a production capacity approaching 100,000 tonnes a year and employs over 550 people worldwide.
In recent years the company has brought its experience and skills to bear on the development of renewable energy projects and the manufacture of on-shore wind turbine towers or, as they are referred to in the industry, canisters. By any measure these manufactured tubular steel structures are big. Depending on the final size of the turbine, the largest produce up to 3.6 megawatts and the smaller turbines generate 235 Kilowatts. Each supporting canister is made in either three or four sections, measures up to 36 metres in height, weighs up to 100 tonnes, have a steel thickness of up to 100mm and an overall diameter up to 5 metres.
As part of a strategy to further develop its specialist capability for renewable energy manufacturing, Mabey Bridge made a significant investment to add another 30,000 square feet to its already vast Newhouse manufacturing plant, enabling the production of an additional 100 turbine towers per year. An important part of this expansion was a new, larger fabricating facility to provide surface treatment processes such as blast cleaning using recycled steel grit, through to the final paint finishing stage.
A reliable source of quality compressed air is a vital factor in this large scale, industrial manufacturing and finishing process. Prior to the extension project, Mabey Bridge had been impressed with the performance of its original HPC compressed air system, supplied, installed and maintained by HPC Authorised Distributor, Compressor Systems (Wales) Ltd.
The expansion of the surface treatment facility and the associated scaling-up of the fabricating and finishing processes demanded increased air capacity. However, it was also very important to ensure the ongoing energy efficiency of the system whilst coping with the new, greater variable demand.
A key requirement identified in the early stages of the consultation process was that the compressors for the blast cleaning, paint shop spraying facility and the fabrication area needed to be connected and able to work together. With each system supplying compressed air to the other and depending on the workflow, it needed to be possible to meet a combined varying demand of up to 84.9m³/min (3000cfm). It was also important that the two linked compressed air systems could provide redundancy, and it was essential that the new system ensured that the painting process could always operate uninterrupted.
After carefully considering the options and proposals from several experienced compressed air specialists, Mabey Bridge invested in the proven expertise of Compressor Systems (Wales) and HPC Compressed Air Systems. Having worked hard to establish a good working relationship with Mabey Bridge at the company’s other manufacturing sites, Compressor Systems (Wales) was able to demonstrate how the investment in a new variable speed compressor would complement the two existing HPC compressors working with them to optimise efficiency through periods of varying demand. In fact, they were the only supplier that identified and provided a solution to redundancy and for linking the two systems together through the latest HPC compressed air management, control and communication system.
The Mabey Bridge compressed air system installed as part of the extension was:
• 1 off HPC ESD 442 SFC (250kW) rotary screw compressor with SIGMA Frequency Control
• 1 off HPC SIGMA Air Manager (SAM) Compressor management, control and communication system
• A compressed air treatment package including refrigerant dryers, compressed air filtration and condensate management
The existing compressed air system at Mabey Bridge comprised:
• 1 off HPC ESD441 (250kW) rotary screw compressor
• 1 off HPC DSD 238 (132kW) rotary screw compressor
• A package of compressed air treatment products
At the heart of the new installation is the HPC SIGMA Air Manager (SAM) management and control system, a powerful industrial PC featuring HPC’s adaptive 3-D control. This state-of-the-art compressed air management system brings together the individual components of the compressed air system to ensure that compressor delivery volume is precisely adjusted to match actual demand (from both the fabrication area and the paint shop) saving energy and reducing operating costs. Unlike other master control systems which are limited by relying on operating within a narrow pressure range and with the lowest possible switching pressure differential, HPC’s 3-D control paints a bigger picture. This ensures unrivalled performance by optimising energy efficiency throughout the entire compressed air system. This level of control and monitoring enables engineers’ at Mabey Bridge to generate and maintain the required levels of compressed air despite the widely varying demands from either the fabrication area or the paint shop, whilst keeping their kW usage to a minimum.
Commenting on how the new HPC compressed air system has performed, Alex Wilson, Production Engineer at Mabey Bridge, said “The variable speed compressor has allowed us to save energy by closely matching the supply and demand of compressed air whilst maintaining an accurate and constant supply pressure.
The SIGMA Air Manager controls the installation perfectly, switching the compressors in and out to meet the sometimes large variations in demand. We really appreciate the SIGMA Air Manager (SAM) main control feature as it enables our three compressors to work in conjunction providing us with maximum flexibility and directly matching the supply of compressed air with the demand of our processes, whilst maintaining a constant system pressure. It also means that we can add compressors into our system and consider some of the impressive, additional communication and control features of the system as our process needs grow”.
The planning, consultation and installation process at Mabey Bridge’s Newhouse site has proved to be a great success and an excellent example of partnership project management and cooperation. The system designed between Compressor Systems (Wales), HPC Compressed Air Systems and Mabey Bridge has exceeded expectations both in its ability to meet the wide variations in demand for compressed air for the important fabricating and finishing processes and with regard to all-important energy savings.
This is another example of HPC’s ability to supply the most energy-efficient compressed air solutions for all industrial markets, whether it is industrial electric, portable diesel units or high volume - low pressure rotary blower systems.
With thanks to Mabey Bridge Ltd – www.mabeybridge.com