Food & Beverage

In recent decades the food and beverage industry has undergone widespread changes from small to middle and large firms. The ensuing industrialisation of food processing has created many applications that use vacuum pumps and compressors.

The growing importance of convenience food and extended shelf life have also led to a sharp increase in vacuum and compressed air demand.

Seen as a safe and reliable source of power, modern food facilities rely on compressed air in their manufacturing processes. Often considered as the fourth utility, compressed air is present in all areas of food and beverage manufacture and process. Oil free compressors can be used in direct contact with product, or oil lubricated compressors can be used in packaging processes or to operate production machinery such as filling machines, pumps or the generation of other gases.

  • Packaging – compressed air can be used to generate vacuum used in the packaging process, air is also used in conveying systems to move food and ingredients
  • PET bottle blowing – high pressure oil free compressed air is fed into the bottle blower machine moulds where preforms are heated and the plastic is streched to form the bottle
  • Product handling – air hoists and cylinders are used to move products, at very high speeds able to keep up with modern production practices
  • Food filling machines – machines use compressed air to fill products such as cakes, pies, and liquid products
  • Fluid pumps – compressed air is generated to operate pumps such as diaphragm pumps to move liquid products in the production and filling process
  • Nitrogen generation – compressed air is filtered to produce nitrogen used for packaging
  • Bulk transfer
  • Evacuation
  • Filtration units
  • Food preservation


Vacuum pumps Oil free compressors Oil lubricated compressors
Rotary vane compressors

Case Study

CompAir slices energy costs at bakery

Just three months after installing two fixed-speed L110s and one regulated-speed L132RS compressor, along with a heat recovery system from CompAir, a leading supplier of bread products is on target to achieve annual energy savings in the region of £188,000, with a payback on investment in less than two years.

The company recently embarked on a period of investment, with the aim of improving its equipment and processes to ensure consistent production levels.

Compressed air is used throughout the production process, 24 hours per day, to help produce over two million bread products every week.

The plant’s existing compressors, which were over 20 years old, were no longer providing an efficient source of air, so the company opted to review its compressor system.

Inefficient air
The bakery had previously using four fixed-speed compressors, three of which were CompAir machines. Because of their age, and the fact they were running continuously, the compressors were becoming inefficient and expensive to maintain.

A full air audit, including leak testing identified that, by installing three new compressors, including a regulated speed unit as well as a heat recovery system and SmartAir Master controller, the customer could benefit from considerable energy savings.

The regulated speed L132RS and fixed speed L110 compressors produce the correct amount of air to match requirements, meaning the compressors are always running at optimum efficiency. The additional fixed speed unit acts as a standby compressor for use during essential maintenance work.

In addition, the SmartAir Master controller from CompAir helps to reduce energy consumption by operating all of the compressors in the network to the narrowest pressure band. The unit’s remote monitoring capability allows the operator to view system performance and detect any errors via a PC. It has also allowed machine-running hours to be equalised so that no compressor is over or underused.

Heat recovery
Typically, almost all of the energy that is used to power a compressor is converted to heat and is then wasted.

All three compressors came factory fitted with CompAir’s oil-to-water plate heat exchangers, allowing recovery of up to 72% of the power consumed.

The heat recovery system enables the company’s boiler water feed to be preheated, helping to reduce the company’s annual natural gas consumption, saving approximately £139,000 per year.

In order to meet the strict hygiene requirements of the food industry, it is important to generate clean and dry air. The company therefore chose to install a desiccant dryer with steam regeneration from CompAir, along with food grade filtering and oil.

The new system will provide overall annual energy savings in the region of £188,000 with a return on investment in less than two years.