The portable air compressor market is growing consistently in the past couple of years, which is to continue in the coming years as well with most of the application markets are picking up.
Portable air compressors are an important utility in key production processes in the construction and mining industry. They are the major source of power for a range of construction, mining and infrastructure development works.
The mobile compressor market is expected to grow at a rate of 8 per cent from 5,108 in 2017 to 5,500 in 2022, according to an Off-Highway Research forecast. Demand has been consistently growing in the last two years and is expected to remain buoyant in the near future with the election is over and a stable government is at the Centre.
Products and solutions
According to S Kumar, Business Line Manager, Power Technique Customer Center, Atlas Copco (India), portable air compressors play a pivotal role in quarrying and mining applications. He adds, "The quarrying application specifically, is a segment of paramount importance, looking at the amount of aggregates which is required for infrastructure projects. Similarly, the extraction of minerals such as iron ore, manganese etc, with reliable portable air compressors with the lowest possible energy consumption is an important application under metal mining."
Innovations and new product development is a common strategy adopted by manufacturers in order to attain competitive edge over other suppliers. Players in the portable air compressors are bringing in a range of solutions in the market with breakthrough technologies at regular intervals. The focus is more on fuel efficiency, emission, noise reduction, adaptability to specific application needs of the market, optimised O&M cost, serviceability, and safety, which are the key buying factors of a customer. In the construction and mining industry, portable compressors are offered in the range of 180-1,000 cfm (volume of air)/ 100-300 psi (power capacity). In India, Atlas Copco and ELGi Equipments are major players.
ELGi Equipments offers portable compressed air solutions in the range of 300-1,000 cfm/100-300 psi for applications such as road construction, limestone quarries, iron ore mining, coal mining, pigging, and solar panel installation.
Atlas Copco offers a vast range of portable air compressor solutions to the industry. Kumar elaborates, "We have a good mix of compressors in our diesel range starting from 140 cfm to 1,350 cfm and pressure range of 7 bar to 35 bar covering all pneumatic applications. We also have a good electric range starting from 45 kW up to 75 kW (300 cfm up to 500 cfm; 7 bar to 12 bar). The range combines lightweight compressors with small dimensions, making it easy to manoeuvre on site."
On the new range of products, he adds, "The new XAWS 550 PACE has the latest technology with a wider pressure range from 90 to 215 psig. The PACE controller locks in and regulates the perfect pressure and flow combination!ö According to him, the XRH 1100 PLUS is a revolution in high pressure air compressor technology where the silencer is tucked away in a smart, sleek design to ensure ease of movement during transportation.
In the beginning of this year, ELGi unveiled a brand new trolley-mounted compressor model - the PG75E-12.5, during the India Stonemart 2019, best suited for granite and marble mining applications. ELGi's portable compressors are available in single and two-stage models. These compressors find wide range of application across the cable laying, blast-hole drilling, exploratory drilling, construction, coal and marble mining, sandblasting, stone mining and crawler drilling. "The portable screw air compressors feature energy saving eta-V profile air-ends, resulting in significant savings in energy costs. Fitted with international warranty engines, every ELGi portable air compressor ensures better fuel economy and lower emissions, all while providing uptime and durable performance at a low cost of ownership, coupled with longer service intervals and easy maintenance," a press release from the company says.
The release elaborates, "Our compressors score high on reliability as they deliver the required drilling rate to the drilling units, and are very fuel-efficient too. Since they have to work in dusty areas and high ambient temperatures, every compressor has been fitted with pre-cleaners and a filtration system that prevents dust from entering the compressor and the engines. With a robust industrial grade steel enclosure and powder coated canopy, our compressors offer maximum corrosion resistance and durability. ELGi's portable compressors are manufactured locally and are therefore available on-demand and provide for ease of use via our ELGi parts and product support through tailor made warranty programs."
The future looks positive for mobile compressors. Almost every demand segment is progressing. The momentum in infrastructure creation and development of existing infrastructure has created new opportunities for construction activities in large numbers and with bigger scales. As the construction activities picking up, need for aggregates is on the rise which has opened up more growth opportunities for aggregate mining and quarrying. Requirement for limestone and granite is also on the rise, prompting more mining activity in these segments. With coal and iron ore mining on a revival path, more mining activities are expected in the coming years. With water level going down on the earth, there is an increased need for bore wells to source underground water effectively. All these are new opportunities for portable air compressors for various applications.
According to Kumar, infrastructure, mining, quarrying and waterwell are the four major segments of portable compressor business. He adds, "With the increased focus on road development and the revival in the mining and quarrying segment, there is continued demand for portable compressors. Besides this, the waterwell segment also contributes to the demand of large compressors for bore well applications."
In spite of the stringent emission and pollution control norms, the market for mobile compressors is expected to grow in future owing to the development of the application markets.