It’s interesting how many companies approach the problem of getting compressors onto and into difficult areas. This is a problem inherent in the drilling industry.
Drilcorp Ltd had exactly the same problem on many of their sites. In addition to difficult to access areas, the problem of moving a wheel-mounted compressor over unknown terrain invariably ended up with extra costs and downtime as well as damages that needed to take care of.
Dave Gowans, Managing Director, had an idea of mounting the compressor on tracks to overcome these problems. Keeping the dimensions of the machine as small as possible, for manoeuvring purposes, he wanted the compressor to move under its own power and to be able to track it by remote control for safety reasons.
At the outset Dave realised that there would be a range of compressors with various types of tracks and ground pressure. He had to choose a suitable make and model for his projects so a number of major manufacturers were approached for information and quotes. The Ingersoll-Rand, now Doosan, range proved to be the most suitable for its frame sizes, available power from the engine power take off to operate the undercarriage, reliability and back up service. The first compressor chosen was a small Ingersoll-Rand 14/115 which is capable of producing a free air delivery of 11.3m3 (400cfm) at an operating pressure of 14bar (200psi) and is powered by an Ingersoll-Rand 6IRF8TE engine. Noise was within legal guidelines so it was suitable for use in rural and built up residential areas.
The compressor was mounted onto a suitable undercarriage with vulcanised rubber tracks to prevent damage to whatever surface it was to work on. This also gave it the manoeuvrability and low ground bearing pressure needed for loading and unloading from transport and negotiating inaccessible areas. An open loop hydraulic system was used to propel the machine. In the interests of safety, besides installing remote controls, it was also fitted with visual and audible alarms when tracking and an emergency stop. Due to the configuration of all the parts, a low centre of gravity was achieved which allowed for traveling up gradients and across uneven ground.
Only the width changed from the original dimensions so we now had a compressor that could turn around within its own length making it highly manoeuvrable. The use of non-toxic biodegradable oil in the hydraulic system ensured we would not cause ground contamination.
Field trials were a great success and the new radio controlled self-propelled track mounted air compressor is in permanent use by Drilcorp throughout the UK. Due to increased demand for the Tmac’s services, a larger model was developed and manufactured based on the ingorsoll-Rand (Doosan) 21/215, powered by an Ingersoll-Rand 6IRQ0AE engine and capable of producing a free delivery of 20.9m³ (760cfm) at working pressure of 20bar (300psi).
Drilcorp now boasts a fleet of track mounted compressors available for their own use and hire to other clients throughout the UK.