The on-vehicle power technology of tomorrow

Monday, September 24, 2018 - 09:46
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When a commercial fleet operator requires flexible power for their mobile workshops, on-vehicle systems can be an ideal solution. However, there are significant differences between older, traditional technologies and modern solutions. Paul Smith, commercial manager of on-vehicle power specialist Winton, explains what these are and why they matter.

 When a commercial fleet requires flexible mobile power solutions, including compressed air, on-vehicle power can be the ideal solution. On-vehicle power solutions can be used for a multitude of tasks, including the operation of road drills, breakers, hand tools and site lighting.

And, compared to the traditional approach of using separate pieces of plant, on-vehicle power solutions deliver many benefits. These include a cleaner, safer working environment for employees, reduced operational noise levels, lower exhaust emissions and improved vehicle utilisation.

Manufacturers of on-vehicle power solutions will either use vane, screw or piston-driven compressor technology within their products – and while this might not seem overly significant, it can actually make a big difference to the bottom line. Not everyone realises that different types of compressors can vary significantly in their performance – and therefore their efficiency – and so it’s worth fleet managers taking a closer look at the solutions on offer.

Despite the fact that vane and screw compressors were developed at similar times and are designed to produce the same end result, the two technologies differ quite considerably.

Vane compressors operate at lower speeds than screw compressors, from a direct drive coupling, which in turn leads to lower power consumption. We have developed systems to reduce the upper engine running speed from 1,900 to 1,580rpm, and tests indicate a significant additional saving of up to one litre of fuel per hour.

Based on a fuel price of £1.10 per litre at 400 hours per year, this can deliver a potential combined fuel saving of up to £440 per annum, per vehicle. The savings for customers operating a whole fleet of vehicles can therefore be substantial.

In addition, the use of synthetic oil in the compressors delivers extended service life and reduces whole life operational costs, and oil change intervals are extended to 36 months or 1,200 hours.

As well as reducing fuel consumption and whole life operational costs, the use of vane technology also reduces noise. The level at which an employer must provide hearing protection and hearing protection zones is now 85 dB(A). On-vehicle power solutions that use vane compressors operate at up to 13dB(A) less than traditional systems – Winton on-vehicle power systems operate at only 72dB(A). This significantly reduces operator exposure as well as general noise pollution. The belt drive system and lower running speed used in Winton’s solutions also contribute to lower noise levels.

The type of compressor used in an on-vehicle power solution might not seem overly important, but with different compressors providing different levels of efficiency, it actually has a significant impact on fuel consumption and whole life costs, therefore affecting the bottom line. Fleet managers would therefore be wise to take a closer look at the systems on offer before selecting a supplier.

Winton’s on-vehicle power systems can include a compressor, generator, inverter and/or hydraulic power, alongside a range of ancillary equipment, including racking and workbenches, external light bars and work lights. They can be fitted to a wide range of commercial vehicles, from light commercial vehicles to 26 tonne lorries.

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