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Long established as a world leader in its field, Birmingham based Dunlop Aircraft Tyres Ltd is currently engaged in a multi-million pound investment program. In August 2003, Dunlop completed installation of an efficient compressed air system in close co-operation with HPC and Authorised Distributor Compressed Air Services Ltd (CAS) of Birmingham. With the benefit of having several months since installation, the improvements in production reliability can clearly be seen. Process put in jeopardy Alan Gleadhill, Dunlop's Capital Projects Manager, explained "The old system had come to the end of its life and was running flat-out to keep up with demand. A constant compressed air supply is critical to our manufacturing process and as the system became unreliable that process was put in jeopardy each time a compressor fault occurred. The dirty air, down-time and low pressure all led to increased scrap levels and, after risk assessment, we decided to hire a compressor to ensure our air supply". In order to find a permanent solution however, Dunlop invited several air systems providers to come up with a suitable new compressed air supply. After analysis, HPC & Compressed Air Services Limited recommended a package comprising 3 direct driven fixed speed CSD102 rotary screw compressors, two large refrigerant dryers and a MAC41 system controller that assigns equal operating hours to each compressor. Other providers proposed variable-speed options. Alan Gleadhill explained "major influencing factors for choosing the CAS/HPC package were the combination of compressor type, past experience and the working relationship. The decisive factor, however, was the 5 year fixed price service plan provided as part of the compressor package. This meant we could budget for maintenance and running costs for the next 5 years." An image of one of the loud, unreliable and old compressor units which had come to the end of its life. Oil based emissions a "No-No" Clean air is vital for the aircraft tyre manufacturing process. As Alan explained "oil based emissions are a No-No", because the rubber's adhesive properties can be adversely affected if contaminants come into contact with the tyre rubber during the production process. This can lead to substandard tyre integrity after the moulding process and consequently to increased scrap levels. CAS Sales Manager, Kevan Shephard, emphasised "We are aware of how essential air quality is to guarantee product quality, therefore the filters remove particles as small as 0.01microns and the filtration, compressors and dryers all provide 100% backup". The old units were loud and consumed a great deal of oil, both good reasons for them to be located away from the tyre production area. Ineffective air treatment also meant the system had to be frequently drained to reduce problems occurring in air-tools and air-lines caused by condensate build-up. This not only wasted valuable time and personnel resources, but reduced productivity. Now, with low noise emissions and concerns regarding oil contamination and air treatment eliminated, the new system is located next to the production area. This enabled installation to take place without affecting Dunlop's day-to- day business. Part of the newly installed HPC/CAS compressed air system at Dunlop Aircraft Tyres. For peace of mind, the compressors and dryers all provide 100% back-up. "Without air we don't function" When asked if there were any difficulties during this period, Alan simply responded "It went like a dream. It took 9 days to complete the task and changeover to the new system meant that throughout the whole process Dunlop lost less than 30 minutes production". Kevan explained "The compressor system and air-ring main were supplied under one umbrella and were provided as a turn-key installation with 24/7 support. CAS trained Dunlop staff to perform weekly maintenance tasks and our engineers visit the site every six months for regular servicing work".

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