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Compressed air from the roof: metal weaver saves 20 % energy

The applications of the metal meshes produced by GKD – Gebr. Kufferath AG range from microfilters for inkjet printers to automotive filtration, and from process belt mesh for dryers and ovens to challenging architectural projects. The company is based in Düren, Germany, and is the world‘s leading technical weaver. A compressor station on the factory roof was an innovative solution to the growing demand in production for compressed air – and also delivered significant energy savings.

GKD Compressors

The weaving process is not just about processing yarn. Metals can also be weaved - using technology with a long tradition that has been developed to perfection by GKD - Gebr. Kufferath AG. Nowhere is that clearer than on a tour through the factory at the company's headquarters in Düren.

The company, founded in 1925, is the world's leading technical weaver. Across a number of different production areas, weaving machines produce mesh for everything from technical strainers to filters for processing (conveyor) belts and architecture. The smallest wires used in the process have a diameter of 18-thousandths of a millimetre - four times thinner than a human hair. But wires with a diameter of 7 mm are also processed at the factory, and the applications range from microfilters for inkjet printers to filters for exhaust gas recirculation in combustion engines and challenging architectural projects. The size of the machines and the end products is correspondingly varied.

Compressed air is used (almost) everywhere

The facilities at GDK in Düren are typically upgraded by specialist engineers or to suit GKD's requirements and operate around the clock. After all, any market leader who regularly designs technically demanding systems can only rarely rely on standard machinery. As every machine has (electro-)pneumatic drivers and actuators, all the machines are connected to the central factory air supply network.

As the company is growing continuously and developing entirely new applications, the demand for compressed air and the compressed air network itself have grown with the factory over recent years. The technical limits of the compressed air system were reached roughly two years ago.

GKD Compressors Installation
GKD Compressors Installation Team

Dieter Maaßen, Head of Building Management & Maintenance: "The operational reliability of the compressed air supply left a lot to be desired, as the existing compressors were too old and therefore required a considerable amountof maintenance. The pipe cross-sections were too narrow and the structure of the network was not ideal, as multiple stations fed into the compressed air network from different locations."

Objective: A future-proof and efficient compressed air supply

The plan then developed to replace the compressed air station completely. Andreas Decker, GKD Process Manager: "The objective was a future-proof and efficient compressed air supply." A range of different offers were submitted during the bidding process, but it was a design from another company based in Düren, HPS - Hydraulik & Pneumatik Service GmbH, that beat the competition.

The final design was for a central compressed air station with three regulated speed screw compressors, each generating 13.5 m3 Paul Oliver Peuster, HPS Sales Manager: "The required volume can be provided by one or two machines - the third has been installed for redundancy and to provide capacity in the future." The three L 75 RS oil-injected compressors from the CompAir range excel thanks to low servicing costs and excellent efficiency.

The compressor stage with its innovative screw geometry is manufactured in the modern CompAir factory in Simmern/ Hunsrück. It has the unique advantage of effective compression at low speeds, which reduces energy costs and makes for very attractive life-cycle costs. The energy-saving electric motors also contribute to low operating costs. The regulated speed drive system (converter) adjusts the generated volume of air to the actual consumption profile. The innovative DELCOS XL touch screen controller means that all operating parameters can be monitored efficiently and demand and supply can be constantly adapted for all three compressors. On the factory side, a base load selector is installed in the master compressor, connected to the slaves via a bus line. An additional higher- level compressor controller is therefore not required.

If more compressed air is required than one compressor can supply, the next compressor in series automatically switches on. The compressors then run at the same, optimised speed.

Turnkey container solution on the factory roof

A further plus point of the CompAir L series is the modular design, which delivers very compact dimensions. This advantage was decisive for the GKD compressed air station, as HPS and GKD charted new territory in the search for the best installation point.