Kilcoy cuts costs with compressed air upgrade
Formed in 1953 to supply local butchers, Kilcoy Pastoral Company has grown to be one of the largest integrated beef processors in Australia. Each year, more than 260,000 head of cattle pass through the company’s facility, which is located 100 km north-west of Brisbane.
The company sells meat to the domestic Australian market and also supplies its processed beef to 20 international markets through its accreditation with AUS-MEAT as an approved exporter.
Energy Efficiency Services (EES) - a business division of Compressed Air and Power Solutions Australia (CAPS) - conducted a full energy audit of the Kilcoy plant in 2011. Analysis of the audit results indicated that considerable savings could be made by ensuring the compressed air systems were energy efficient.
An Ingersoll Rand Nirvana R160ne-A compressor was selected to achieve this objective, supplying compressed air for the meat processors, pumps and tools, in addition to the packaging lines.
The compressor features a variable speed drive (VSD) coupled with an intuitive controller with easily adjustable operating parameters, onboard diagnostics and a built-in energy savings calculator. The unit also uses a coolant curtain to reduce energy consumption by injecting atomised oil into the compressed air stream, significantly lowering the energy required for compression.
To reduce downtime and lost production, the R160ne-A is rated for continuous operation 24 hours per day, seven days per week at 100% loading. Effective in high ambient temperatures of up to 46°C, the unit withstands some of Australia’s harshest environments.
The air compressor system upgrade was part of Kilcoy’s ongoing program to improve its performance and reduce plant carbon emissions. The commissioning of new compressors, along with the installation of new refrigerated dryer and additional filtration systems was the largest contributing factor in the company’s energy cost savings.
“Even though the average plant compressed air usage has increased by about 14%, there has been an average power reduction of 15% due to the improved compressor technology utilised,” said Dean Goode, Kilcoy Chief Executive.
“We’re proud of our reputation and have worked hard to improve our sustainability. This upgrade is part of a continuing series of improvements aimed at delivering world-class environmental operations.”
Quentin St Baker, National Manager of EES, said the Kilcoy upgrade not only substantially boosts performance, but will also help to improve equipment life span and eliminate production downtime. He estimates that the resulting air compressor energy savings would exceed 40% and maintenance costs would be reduced by approximately 30%.
Kilcoy was able to secure funding via a federal government Low Carbon Grant arranged through Origin Energy.
“Low Carbon Australia’s finance covered the up-front costs of upgrading equipment which meant that our client could start benefiting from resulting energy efficiencies sooner,” St Quentin said.
According to Goode, the energy savings from the compressed air upgrade is likely to enable the company to recoup its investment within four years.
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