Atlas Copco’s Systems Hemel Hempstead custom engineering workshop was officially reopened following the completion of a £680,000 (€870,000) upgrade to strengthen its world-class credentials. The workshop at Systems Hemel Hempstead, one of Atlas Copco’s six global competence centres that design and assemble bespoke compressed air and nitrogen generation packages primarily for the oil and gas industry, has more than doubled in size and been equipped with a range of new facilities in order to meet growing international demand for its services.
Visiting the UK to officially open the expanded workshop at Systems Hemel Hempstead, Nico Delvaux, president of Compressor Technique at Atlas Copco, said: “As one of the first competence centres in our global Systems network, the Hemel Hempstead site was established in 1972 to serve customers operating in the North Sea but, since beginning to fulfil orders from oil and gas operators internationally in 2008, this facility has taken on even greater importance and the investment we have made is a testament to that. Today we have a custom engineering competence centre with staff, expertise, products and capabilities that are truly world-class. This will help us meet the long-term needs of the oil and gas industry and other industries for many years to come.”
The upgrade of the workshop in Hemel Hempstead has seen the total floor area expanded from its original 850m2 to 1950m2. A new mezzanine level has been built above a section of the workshop to accommodate, alongside some new offices, a dedicated viewing area for customers to witness product testing. An external 12m x 15m covered test area has also been built, adding a valuable additional space for testing large engineered packages in any weather. These packages can now be moved around in the workshop more easily thanks to the provision of two new 5-tonne cranes, trackways and controls, which complement three existing cranes. These additions increase working capacity and throughput, shortening lead times to the customer.
The fluctuating man hours required to handle this type of work is done using a core of 45 Atlas Copco employees with some work sub-contracted when necessary to handle peak demands. This represents approximately 20 more employees than a decade ago.
Commenting on the expansion project, Paul Frost, manager of systems Hemel Hempstead, said: “Our workshop is now a truly world class facility. We have a competitive base here in Hemel Hempstead, with professional, experienced electrical and mechanical design and project management staff, plus 40 years of expertise. When you add to this Atlas Copco’s oil-free air compressors and network of 3,600 service engineers who can support the equipment wherever in the world we deliver, we are truly a single-source compressed air supplier. We are proud to be investing in this local competence centre for custom engineered compressed air and nitrogen packages.”
Other new additions include two modern spray paint booths to replace the original single unit and a new grit blast facility, meaning that virtually any customer paint specification can be met. Permanently installed test equipment, such as orifice plates, silencers and flow tubes, as well as an electrical panel housing 415V main contactors for safer and faster connections, mean that equipment no longer needs to be hired for string testing the finished compressed air and nitrogen systems prior to delivery. This speeds up the testing process and offers more flexibility to extend test runs if requested by the customer, all in accordance with ISO 1217.
A new 1.5MW fin/fan water cooler is able to remove heat from water-cooled air compressors up to 1.5MW and a 1000kVA generator for 50 and 60Hz testing, further contribute towards reducing testing time and meeting all customer requirements on site.
The majority of Systems Hemel Hempstead’s end products are modular ‘plug and play’ packaged solutions, custom built and shipped with all components, such as compressors, dryers, filters, air receivers, nitrogen generators, instrumentation and control systems, on a single base frame for integration with land-based or offshore process installations.
As Paul Frost explained: “Each project is different because customer requirements tend to be unique for the intended environment. We have recently supplied compressor packages which must operate in a range of temperatures from -400C to +450C in Russia and to an oil company in the Middle East where reliable operation at +550C is required to withstand regular sand storms.”
As the most technically advanced of Atlas Copco’s six strategically located custom engineering competence centres, the Systems Hemel Hempstead workshop plays a major role in the supply of bespoke solutions across the globe meeting the needs of demanding applications within the worldwide energy, industrial power, pharmaceutical, chemical and petrochemical markets.