Compressor overhaul completed in 9-day maintenance marathon

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Atlas Copco’s ZH compressor plays a critical role at the Solvay hydrogen peroxide factory in Póvoa de Santa Iria, Portugal. When the 80 000-hour unit needed an overhaul that would require it to be out of service for 3 weeks, Atlas Copco and Solvay technicians developed a plan to complete the maintenance project in 9 days of intense work.

Compressor overhaul completed in 9-day maintenance marathonSolvay, a global chemical company with 2012 net sales of EUR 12.7 billion, is committed to sustainable development, innovation and operational excellence. The company manufactures a wide range of chemical products for consumers and for industry segments including construction, automotive and energy.

Solvay purchased the ZH oil-free centrifugal compressor 10 years ago. Equipped to save energy and guarantee reliability, Atlas Copco’s ZH compressors are suitable for customer processes with a fluctuating or constant air demand. These innovative compressors provide reliable operation in the most demanding environments. For optimum product quality, air is 100 per cent certified oil-free according to ISO 8573-1 Class 0 (2010).

As part of its preventive maintenance contract with Atlas Copco, the ZH compressor at the Solvay facility has its rotors inspected and its main components overhauled every 24,000 hours; i.e. every 3 years. This time the compressor needed to have its rotors balanced. Under normal circumstances, this type of overhaul would take 3 weeks. However, because the ZH compressor plays such a fundamental part in the production process, the company could not afford to shut it down for so long.

Ramiro Dionísio, head of the project at Solvay says: “Thanks to Atlas Copco’s flexibility and cooperation, and their awareness of the impact this compressor’s absence would have on us, we managed to put together a work plan that allowed us to overhaul the compressor in record time.”

In order to complete the overhaul in nine days, the project’s schedule allowed no room for error. Ramiro Dionísio explains: “Every hour beyond those allocated in the plan was another hour with the process at a standstill, with the consequent loss of production.”

On the first day of work, shortly after the rotors were removed, an international carrier was waiting at the gates to take them to Germany for balancing. Ramiro Dionísio says: “Nobody does this balancing work in Portugal, so the parts have to go directly to the manufacturer.” Twenty-four hours later, the rotors arrived in Germany, and in 3 days the work was completed and the rotors returned to Solvay.

A team of two Atlas Copco technicians and two Solvay employees then reassembled the equipment. Ramiro Dionísio says: “The entire overhaul was completed in nine days. The tenth day was spent monitoring the machine as it went back into production.”

Solvay’s ZH compressor, which works approximately 8600 hours per year, has supplied compressed air very reliably, robustly and safely, and the final evaluation of the work done on the compressor was very positive. Ramiro Dionísio adds: “Let’s hope it lasts at least another 80 000 hours.”

To learn more about the ZH compressor, please go to

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