Sullair transitions major Australian food manufacturer to oil-free with minimal downtime
Our client is a major Australian food manufacturer, producing Australian made food products across diverse categories, under several brands. For this case study, those brands include Cobs Popcorn and Green’s Biscuits. The application, in this case, spreads across the full production process including packaging goods to finished product, all of which require air to come in direct contact with the food and the equipment it’s made on.
The company had been using fully compliant oil-injected compressors with filtration measures to manage contamination risks, but given the advantages of reduced filtration measures, were considering a switch to oil-free. Dev Mali is a representative for the company who worked closely with Sullair on this equipment transition. “Out there in the industry, there are solution providers that claim oil-injected compressors plus an array of filters can do as good a job as oil-free. Rather than going into that debate, for us, it was more about being a world class food manufacturer and mitigating the risk at the source and one way to do that was to go with an oil-free solution.”
The implications of contamination in food and beverage production are enormous, so Sullair needed to present all the options to the client that would inform them to make exactly the right decision for their business – both economically and from a risk management perspective. “The risk comes from the fact that if there’s a catastrophic failure with the oil-flooded compressors, that could lead to a significant disruption to production and with compressed air being a critical part of services in modern manufacturing factories with numerous pneumatic triggers, it can pretty much shut down a factory,” Dev explains. “Not to mention product recalls and the effect on the whole production schedule in a tightly run production environment.”
“We are also lined up for another upgrade in one of our plants in NSW, so we have one solution provider that can look after future services as well as a service agreement.”
The conversation first began in late 2020 and once the decision had been made to make the switch to oil-free, Sullair provided a turnkey solution that included supply, installation, and commissioning of compressors and ancillary equipment, across both Green’s Biscuits in Queensland and the Cobs facility in Victoria. “We are also lined up for another upgrade in one of our plants in NSW, so we have one solution provider that can look after future services as well as a service agreement.”
A transition such as this would usually be expected to require a 3-day shutdown or hire arrangements implemented to parallely feed the production, however, operations were minimally disrupted with ½ a day to cutover between the old equipment and the new. “At Cobs, we had a parallel system running with the existing compressor during cutover which completely eliminated the need to have any major shut down. Sullair was able to organise the tradespeople who had done a whole lot of prep work before the change which made everything pretty seamless”. The entire solution from the first contact to purchase order for two facilities to delivery, installation and the solution being fully operational took around 3 months across both the businesses.
Overall, the client was very happy with the end result – from the initial conversations, to the support with decision making and the final outcomes. They found it especially useful to be given all the options that could then inform what has become a game-changing decision for the company. “We asked Sullair to present both the options including the oil flooded and the oil-free compressors,” explains Dev. “Sullair helped in making it clear both from the pricing, the commercials and the technical aspects of both the systems. They helped us to understand the cost structure and the savings associated with each of the options, which helped us to make clear decisions”.
Today, the consensus is that most people on site forget the new compressors are even there. “If it was giving us trouble every single day and had become a discussion point that’s where we’d be extremely unhappy, but they came in, installed and people have forgotten that something even happened with the critical services, which is great. The fact it has become a default high-quality service is a real achievement.”