Gas Compressors

Compression technology facts for investing.

For years, distributors have benefited from gas compressor technology to enhance their operations and thus, their bottom lines. As gas volumes increase, the need to move gases into cylinders and transportation modules becomes a prime necessity in order to get products to customers.

Diaphragm unit

Diaphragm unit

Compressors represent a portion of the “package.” Storage is the other part of the equation and both require a sizable investment for the distributor. A needs’ analysis, coupled with a financial analysis, will result in a cost/benefit rationale that will help the distributor determine whether to invest in compressor technology and what type, i.e., diaphragm units for UHP and specialty gases, and reciprocating compressors for other requirements such as welding grade gases and breathing air.

Cost/Benefit Analysis
To determine whether or not to invest in compressor technology, it is important to analyze the cost and the resulting benefits. Make sure you have answers to these questions:

  1. How much do I pay the shipper for the product?
  2. What residual do I have to pay?
  3. How much product and/or cylinders am I going to ship per month?
  4. How fast do I have to unload the product at my site and then get the product out to my customers?
  5. Do I buy new or am I willing to go used?

Once these questions have been answered in-house, the distributor should relay key information to the compressor vendor. That information includes:

  1. The amount of product coming into the plant and in what form (liquid/gas)
  2. The source pressure of the gas (tube trailers or liquid trailers)
  3. The destination pressure of the gas; this is in the cylinder, tube trailers or ground storage
  4. How much product the distributor will put out the door, not just today but also going forward.

When the compressor vendor has this analysis, a proposal can be developed that best serves the distributor. The distributor adds this proposal to his or her price make-up matrix.

Refurbished K975 Breathing Air Compressor

Refurbished K975 Breathing Air Compressor

Choice
Distributors use compression for a variety of gases. Over the years, helium has been the one gas most requiring a compressor. It still is. However, compressors for producing breathing air are becoming more popular as companies move away from reconstituting their breathing air because of risk.

Years ago, one compressor was used to compress both helium (or other inert gas) and breathing air. Recently, there has been a move away from this one compressor because of maintenance issues. Different materials of construction are used on breathing air compressors than on gas compressors, especially considering the high levels of purity involved.

Opportunity
The industrial gas landscape has changed dramatically over the past few years. This change is having a positive impact on welding supply distributors, and many have seized upon opportunities to enhance their gas distribution. In order to maximize their production capabilities, many distributors are finding it necessary to invest in gas compression technology.

In today’s market, making sound financial decisions, while at the same time providing the best solution for end-user customers, is critical to business survival.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association

Robert E. O'Brien Meet the Author
Robert E. O’Brien is vice president of sales and marketing at Gas and Air Systems, Inc., located in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, and on the Web at www.gasair.net.