Focusing on technological innovation

15th October 2010 By: Janice Healing

Although it has diversi- fied its activities beyond its original engineering focus, Compressor & Engine (C&E) Engineering has stayed true to its engineering roots with the development of several specialised products for specific applications, mostly notably for use in the locomotives sector.

C&E MD Gavin Acar tells Engineering News that one of the company’s most significant technological achievements was the design and development of the Vane-tec compressor in partnership with Gardner Denver South Africa.

“These compressors are used in the Metrorail system, as well in 52 different metro systems across the globe. About four years ago, we simplified the design and made it more affordable for South African conditions,” explains Acar.

“The maintenance programmes are fantastic overseas, but this remains challenging in South Africa, owing to the skills shortage. Therefore, we reduced the maintenance requirements of the unit to meet local needs.

“At present, 160 units are operating in the field and, in common with all products, these are undergoing an evolution of improvement, with the emphasis on simpli- fying maintenance even further as that is one of the most challenging aspects for any train component.”
Another innovation linked to the improvement of the Vane-tec compressor is the development of the LPX54 exhauster, with the two components working in sets on Metrorail coaches.

“Metrorail approached C&E to develop a more environment-friendly exhauster, with the majority of the exhausters operating in South Africa dumping their excess oil on the rail tracks.

“We took an existing Gardner Denver exhauster and made several upgrades, including one that allows the unit to operate at a temperature of 80 °C. The cooler operation of the upgraded LPX54 exhauster drastically reduces oil losses, lowers the need for maintenance, cleans exhaust emissions and saves on costly oil replenishment,” says Acar.

Further, the ISO 14001- compliant exhauster is equipped with a robust rotary vane, features a simple, reliable design and is quick and easy to install.

Acar explains that one of the key success factors in the upgrade of the LPX54 unit was the development of a filter to protect the exhauster from contamination.
“Considering that the trains in this country’s metro system are between 40 to 50 years old and are still operating well, despite many not having undergone major refurbishment, is indicative of their brilliant design,” says Acar.

“However, the existing filters were designed for old-technology exhausters and we found that they were really battling to cope with the level of contamination that takes place. Our filters are cost effective, simple to install and extend the life of the exhauster by between 6 and 12 months.”

To date, C&E has sold about 190 of these units into the field.