In talking with Chance Chartters, direct accounts manager of Mobilair for Kaeser Compressors, RER learns what compressor manufacturers are doing to reach a balance between noise reduction and increased efficiency while keeping prices level.
RER: What types of new technologies, enhancements and features are on the horizon for the next generation of compressor models?
Today's portable compressors are designed with two major issues in mind: Energy efficiency and noise abatement. Because market demands have a significant impact, enhancements and future technology will continue to focus on increasing fuel economy and reducing noise levels. But due to the market's competitive and demanding nature, manufacturers must provide higher quality equipment without increasing prices.
What are customers asking for in their compressors and how are manufacturers responding?
The advances in energy efficiency are a direct result of customer demand to reduce operating costs — especially with today's fuel costs. Manufacturers must design portable compressors to allow customers eight to 10 hours of un-interrupted operation — and to do that you have to have more than just a larger gas tank. Units that pair oversized airends with motors turning at slower speeds offer excellent air-per-fuel consumption ratios.
Customers also like the reduced noise levels that help prevent hearing loss among site workers and help improve community relations by limiting noise pollution. Especially in high growth areas, we're seeing “tighter quarters” in construction zones. Developers and builders seeking to be good neighbors will want to minimize noise for the health and safety of their workers on site and for citizens in close proximity.
Noise pollution from air compressors can be significantly reduced by offering a fully enclosed package with a solid floor — not one that is open on the bottom. Enclosures that include not only a solid steel floor, but include approximately 2½-inches of sound-dampening foam will offer the best sound attenuation.
Having precision machined airends also contributes to lower noise levels. Tighter tolerances and heavy-duty bearings designed for longevity provide smooth operation and lower vibrations in any compressor.
What do you expect for the future of the compressor market? How does the market look right now?
It is likely that compressors will see even more refinement in these two key areas of efficiency and noise reduction. However, rental companies also want equipment that is rugged and durable. The non-scratch, dent and temperature resistant molded polymer shells available from some manufacturers are convenient for rental houses and perfectly suited for construction, demolition and other heavy-duty uses.
When rental companies offer equipment that eases or reduces operating costs, it follows that end-users will patronize them more often. Obviously, increased customer loyalty has many advantages. Rental companies also benefit when selecting well made equipment. Beyond having a reputation for offering reliable equipment, longevity and increased service life improves return on investment.
How much has the market grown in the past year and what do you anticipate for the coming year?
With the slowing of the real-estate and housing markets, this year's portable compressor market growth was not as substantial as manufacturers would have liked. However, we anticipate a much better market in 2008. This growth will likely be enhanced as competitiveness among manufacturers increases to meet customers' demands and expectations.