Ultima upgrade leads to £58K energy savings

Accord Healthcare opened their Fawdon, Newcastle site in 2018. A lot of work behind the scenes had happened to get this huge pharmaceutical site back up and running. The site had been completely shut down since 2015 but Accord accepted the challenge to continue domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing.

To breathe life back into a historical factory, investment in new infrastructure and equipment was needed. A key element to building the site back up again was restoring compressed air and providing an efficient, up-to-date solution with potential energy savings.


The Brief

Kyle Storey, Engineering Team Lead at Accord Healthcare, explained: “I was one of the very first engineers onsite. I’ve seen it come from the very start and I remember my first day here. There was no electricity, no gas, no compressed air… there was nothing, so we had to start again from scratch. We’ve done an incredible job to get to where we are.”

Accord inherited compressors with the site acquisition and it was one of the first projects to get tackled. The majority of machinery onsite is compressed air driven including conveyor systems, control systems and valves.

Kyle explains: “We use it for virtually everything onsite as its safer and fits in with our processes – anything that moves in the production section is compressed air! Every major steam valve is pneumatically actuated, so in essence if we lost the compressed air all our heating systems would shut down, and production would stop. In terms of critical utilities, compressed air is on par with electricity and water.”

The two inherited compressors were oversized and old. After discovering the compressors were no longer supported by the manufacturer, the decision was made to go to tender and consider variable speed options. Accord spoke to different providers, but Direct Air’s solution was first noticed for being recommended from Accord’s Barnstaple site.


Our Solution

Direct Air conducted a thorough site survey, including data logging the entire compressed air system. Of the existing compressors, one had suffered failure to both the main and fan inverter drives so would need significant expenditure to fix. And due to the failure, compressed air was being delivered to the facility from the other fixed speed compressor. Due to low air consumption compared to the size of the compressor, it was heavily off-loaded and was resulting in wasted levels of energy.

The data logged reported annuals levels of wasted energy were 335,824 Kw. This equates to an annual cost of £27,000 for wasted energy.

With reliable compressed air vitally important, the installation of new compressors was the best solution. And with a correctly sized variable speed compressor installed, the wasted energy could be saved.

Direct Air recommended two water cooled U75 Ultima compressors with a closed cooling water system and airblast cooler. The second U75 would act as a stand-by machine.

Kyle explained why Direct Air were the chosen supplier: “Everything just aligned. Firstly, already being a service provider for Barnstaple showed us your capabilities, as that site has been constantly in production.”

“Secondly, the level of survey carried out was exceptional. All the other companies did a very small survey. Whereas the report Direct Air produced was pretty fantastic and Allan came to site to explain how much could get saved and how we could achieve this.”

“And finally, it was a turnkey solution so to have everything included while the site was transitioning was great.”

Direct Air conducted the complete mechanical and electrical installation. The cooling water and cables installed were suitable to go to the maximum Ultima capacity (U160), to enable future production increases. The full turnkey project got completed over weekends to provide minimal disruptions.

The oil free U75 compressors immediately provided a much smaller footprint and linked to the sites BMS. They also delivered energy reduction and business continuity.

The new compressed air system got assessed after the first year. Including extra tasks such as fixing air leaks, the energy savings were closer to £58,000 – £35,000 greater than expected!

Kyle commented: “The installation went exactly as planned. Business continuity was one of the primary drivers during this installation and as a site we were vulnerable to a compressed air breakdown, we identified that one compressor was a single point of failure. So, as part of this install, we ensured a contingency was in place for compressed air and the solution was a standby compressor. One compressor is sized large enough to run the entire facility, therefore giving us full coverage.”

“The Ultima technology is a definite upgrade. They’re the way that equipment should be these days. Nicely laid out and everything works as it should. With the old systems we’d have to go over and perform manual checks but now I can see [from the office] exactly what they’re doing and how they’re performing. It’s really good.”

“I can’t imagine the pressure that I would be under if the old system was to fail, to actually stop the entire site.”

Accord have also benefitted from the Ultima’s ability to upgrade. Since the oil free compressors installation, air demand has increased onsite. So Direct Air upgraded the installed compressors from U75 to U110.

Direct Air also support the Fawdon site with routine service and preventive maintenance as a platinum service contract customer. The oil free Ultima’s have iConn installed, which is a remote monitoring service delivering real-time updates.

Kyle Storey, Engineering Team Lead at Accord Healthcare:

“The set-up of Direct Air makes life very easy for us. We don’t have to ring you to book in a service, that’s all done remotely and whenever I speak to Ross it’s very easy. And if there is ever a fault on an Ultima, I immediately get an email and text explaining the issue.”

“The fact you’re not local hasn’t affected the service level you provide at all. The last issue we actually had; Richard M rang us to talk us through some items to try to resolve the issue – while he was on the road to us! He was with us within a few hours and fixed the problem, it’s seamless.”

“The level of service is fantastic, it’s really effortless no matter who I speak to. I can’t fault anyone who comes to site but in particular, JT is superb, and he helps us a lot with a lot of the stuff that he does.”

Allan Dolby, Managing Director at Direct Air, commented:

“It has been a pleasure to work alongside Kyle and Accord Healthcare as their production grown from strength-to-strength. The U75 installed were actually the first commissioned in the UK and it’s been great to have the opportunity to show the benefits of the Ultima technology, with such amazing payback for Accord.”

“We are proud to provide them with ongoing, 24/7 support at our highest standards. And I’m looking forward to working on future projects with Kyle as we continue to provide Accord the best compressed air system possible.”