Did you know 100 psi (7 bar) and 500 psi (34 bar) compressed air systems provide the pressure to shoot water into the air - making the famous Las Vegas Bellagio fountain show possible?!
The 2021 AICD Annual Conference and Exhibition was held May 16-18 at the Westgate Resort in Las Vegas. The official theme was “Playing to Win” but the unofficial theme, repeated by AICD (Association of Independent Compressor Distributor) members and exhibitors alike was, “We’re Back!”
When the AICD Board courageously decided to move ahead with the event, they didn’t know Nevada would drop its mask mandate, for vaccinated people, on May 13, 2021 and that Las Vegas casinos would follow suit the very day the AICD opened!
AICD President Sal Calvo said, “We did it! We are fortunate and grateful to our membership for showing up in force at the same attendance levels we saw pre-COVID in 2019. Exhibitor attendance has also been strong and we are so thankful for everybody’s commitment to make this years’ event a success under these unusual circumstances.”
2021 AICD Board Members were “Glad to be Back!” Michael McCulley, Phil Kruger, AICD President Sal Calvo, Kasey Gould, Jeff Brennan, Dave Nosal, Bart Frush, and Brent Pifer (left to right).
One change, unfortunately, became apparent when I ran into Jeff Brennan. His father, Tom Brennan, passed away in March, 2020. An AICD member for 32 years, you couldn’t find a stronger supporter. Over my career, I always looked forward to seeing Tom and receiving a dose of his positive Arizona energy. I’m sure he’s very proud to see Jeff continue his work at the AICD and provide leadership to Compressed Air Power, Inc. in Phoenix.
In Memoriam. Thomas Robert Brennan (1949 – 2020)
The AICD has always had a strong conference format aimed at helping senior management, at air compressor sales and service companies, better manage their business. Speakers normally include economists with market forecasts, leadership and sales management gurus, and compressed air industry professionals with very tailored information for our market. This year was no exception and the 2021 line-up is below.
- J.R. Gillette, “The Economy and Your Business”
- Jay Johnson, “Employee Management and Sales”
- Hannah Kruger, “Social Media Marketing”
- Celebrity Speaker – Joe Theismann
I took something away from each presentation to help me manage my small business.
You can also count on the AICD to provide structured social events including receptions, lunches and dinners. This years’ outdoor event included a fun afternoon where teams squared off at the Las Vegas Top Golf facility. For participants like me, it’s fun to get points when the ball lands near a different hole than I aimed at!
The Exposition – Platinum Sponsors
PneuTech introduced the Unipipe aluminum piping system for compressed air, vacuum and nitrogen/inert gases. The system has pipe sizes with diameters from ¾” to 10”. The Unipipe Air system is rated for up to 232 psi (15.8 bar) and the Unipipe HP system is rated to 1015 psi (69 bar). Joe Burke and Kevin Taylor showed us the systems’ unique grip ring with a tapered fit, on their all-aluminum fittings, which if the pipe tries to pull away - it actually grips even tighter. These fittings are so secure they allow for the pressure ratings to 232 and 1015 psi and for a 20 year warranty on the pipe and fittings. During the show, they held a few fun hydraulic fluid “burst-pressure tests” – the average UnipipeAir system burst pressure was 4,610 psi (313 bar) and the UnipipeHP’s was 7,429 psi (505 bar)!
Derrick Taylor and Joe Burke at the Unipipe/PneuTech booth (left to right).
At the Sullivan-Palatek booth, CEO Bruce McFee told me business has rebounded with strength but his comment for the record was, “How good it is for us all to be back together again” ! Organizationally they have combined their industrial and portable compressor business under the sales leadership of Larry Colley. They are also making an effort to increase the brand awareness of their sister company, reciprocating air compressor manufacturer Saylor-Beall.
Austin Wilkins, Bruce McFee, Horace Douglas, Larry Colley and Jackie Pifer (Central Air Compressor) at the Sullivan-Palatek booth (left to right).
Hertz Kompressoren continues to build their U.S. presence and Stephanie Brockman has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer. They presented their new oil-free scroll air compressor product line going up to 40 horsepower. The HS-30 quadplex package was on display in a sound attenuating enclosure and is run by a PLC. They also offer duplex, triplex, and tank-mounted with dryer packages. Hertz VP and General Manager Bob Groendyke, by the way, gave me a cool run-down of all the medium and high-pressure compressed air systems powering the Las Vegas fountain shows!
Sergio “Red” Lopez, Stephanie Brockman and Robert Groendyke at the Hertz Kompressoren booth (left to right).
At the AICD booth for Applied System Technologies, Chris Canape told me their focus has always been on consistent product quality, same-day shipment inventory availability and superior customer service. In 2019, they moved into a larger Charlotte warehouse with 1 million linear square feet of aluminum piping in stock - with all the fittings required. He told me their significant investments ensure product availability and that you can speak to a live person when you need help.
Chris Canape, Ben Lucchese and Dominic Lucchese (La Frenz Mechanical), and Kevin Melisz at the Applied System Technologies booth (left to right).
Condensate management specialist, Clean Resources, was talking about their Super-Pak Series of oil-water separators designed for large compressed air systems with 4,000 to 10,000 cfm of air flow. The system ships pre-plumbed and functions on all types of air compressor lubricants.
Bart Frush (Modern Compressed Air), Molly Powers, Michael McCulley (Quality Compressed Air Services) and Bill Peters at the Clean Resources booth.
ISEL told me to expect a third quarter 2021 launch of a new high temperature air compressor lubricant rated for 238 °F (114°C) at 8000 continuous working hours. They also continue to promote their Universal 10,000 hour air compressor lubricant. A unique and largely ester-based formulation, they explained it’s top-off compatible with any air compressor lubricant and their top seller.
Dave Brockett, Dan Parker and Donnie Hendrickson at the ISEL booth.
I will try here to provide insights into what was being talked about at a random sampling of booths at the AICD. Due to article space limitations, my apologies go out to all the booths/exhibitors not mentioned or photographed here.
The BEKO Technologies booth featured innovations to their Drypoint X heatless desiccant dryer. Manufactured in Atlanta, this product line has seen significant growth in recent years. New frame engineering has reduced the package weight and they now offer a series of important standard options for the product line including: low ambient temperature protection, all-pneumatic control, -100 °F (-73 °C) dew point, and an outdoor ambient protection package against wind, sun and rain.
Adrian Fernandez, Josh Borrego, Rusty Welch, Kent Tolman (Maddox Air Compressor) and Jason Hobbs at the BEKO Technologies booth (left to right).
Mikropor USA’s President, Nitin Shanbhag, told me supply chains for the bulk liquid nitrogen industry are in trouble, with lead times greatly extended. He explained this has helped fuel strong growth for their nitrogen generation product lines. They offer a complete compressed air dryer, filter package and nitrogen generator solution. By the way, ask them about my favorite product of theirs, their CAGI-tested “less than 3 psi pressure drop” refrigerated dryer package with integrated prefilter and afterfilter!
Mike Kinnucane, Nitin Shanbhag and Jeff Crutchfield at the Mikropor booth sporting green shirts for their nitrogen generators (left to right)!
At the Midwest Control booth, Marc Schlaiss explained their MCDV timer drain has been selling well due to a full 2-year warranty on their ¼”, 3/8” and ½” sizes which ship same-day with a standard strainer valve. What caught my eye was their line of timer drains with a digital display. He also said their line of Condor pressure switches (for air compressors) is very popular.
Doug Flesner (Grimms Pump & Supply), Travis Moss, Todd Mueller (Grimms) and Marc Schlaiss at the Midwest Control booth (left to right).
Matt Piedmonte is leading the Aerzen Rental team, whose facilities are based in Atlanta. The concept of applying low pressure (<50 psi (<3.4 bar) tri-lobe, screw or turbo blowers to rental applications requiring these pressures – rather than using the traditional diesel or electric 100 psi (7 bar) air compressors - is really taking hold. They attended the AICD to increase the awareness amongst air compressor distributors of this energy-saving option for clients.
Kurt Erickson, Matt Piedmonte, Rick Walsh (Q Air-California), and Scott Werner at the Aerzen Rental booth (left to right).
The Compressed Air Challenge had a booth manned by Frank Moskowitz and CAC President Steve Briscoe. They reported their online training classes are being received enthusiastically.
Frank Moskowitz and Steve Briscoe at the Compressed Air Challenge booth (left to right).
SMC is a global leader in pneumatics. What a lot of “compressed air people” don’t know is they have a proven range of refrigerated compressed air dryers, membrane dryers and filters. Their filter line includes bulk water separators, particulate filters and oil coalescing filters. SMC has a huge product offering including chillers (some specifically designed for laser cutting), bag house pulse filters with extended cycle capabilities, a suite of energy-saving pneumatics and on-machine flow meters/pressure regulators for those interested in demand-side auditing/measurement tools. The potential for deployment of these products by demand-side auditors is enormous - and with SMC’s support one can optimize production equipment safely!
Jim and Rowena Griffin (Starr & Company), Ryan Fultz and Zane Baker at the SMC booth (left to right).
BOGE America in recent years, under the leadership of Gavin Monn and Jerry Elsen, has made significant steps forward. They gave me an update on their ever expanding product offering including the SRHV Booster which now offers pressures up to 580 psi (40 bar). Their tank-mounted C-2 Series rotary screw (15 to 30 hp) comes with an integrated refrigerated dryer and has direct or belt-drive options. Lastly, a big step has been the success of the S-4 Series rotary screw starting at 100 horsepower.
Gavin Monn, Pam Tetterton and Jerry Elsen at the BOGE booth (left to right).
Henderson Engineering continues to provide a full suite of engineered compressed air dryers under the brand name of Sahara Air Dryers. A leader in the manufacturing of heat of compression dryers, they also offer heatless, exhaust purge and blower purge desiccant dryers. As oil-free air compressors gain market share, the arguments in favor of heat of compression dryers become even more significant. Kevin Stern leads their sales efforts and is a very valuable resource when it comes to applications.
Frank O’Connor, Kevin Stern and Chuck Henderson at the Henderson Engineering booth (left to right).
FS-Curtis and FS-Elliott now offer distributors an amazing range of reciprocating, rotary screw and centrifugal air compressors. Matt Smith told me their big news is the launch this summer of their new ECOTURBO oil-free, air-cooled or water-cooled, 2-stage centrifugal air compressors with models starting with 250 horsepower (185 kW) and 350 horsepower (250 kW) units. The line will eventually be extended down to 175 hp (132 kW). He said these units are designed to compete effectively with oil-free rotary screw air compressors.
Natalie Fontana, Tony Montalto and Matt Smith at the FS-Curtis and FS-Elliott booth (left to right).
Altec AIR continues their “Made in Colorado” theme for their full range of refrigerated and desiccant dryers. They told me their UA Series of non-cycling refrigerated dryer has models from 20 to 3,000 cfm, uses R-134a refrigerant and is in stock up to 2000 cfm for next-day shipment in their New Jersey and Denver warehouses. They were also launching their new A Series modular filter line using extruded aluminum housings.
Bob McKay, Chris Foster, Joe Rodenbucher, Charles Algiene and Jim DiMaiolo at the Altec AIR booth (left to right).
Hydrothrift continues to provide the industry with custom-engineered cooling systems, leveraging their unique expertise with the compressed air application. Mike Wlodarski said they are having great success with their PCX water to water isolation heat exchangers used in closed loop cooling systems. Air compressors experiencing issues with cooling tower supplied water are great candidates for this system.
Keith Beatty and Mike Wlodarski and the Hydrothrift booth (left to right).
Sauer Compressors USA is based in Stevensville, Maryland and is an important supplier to the U.S. Navy. They told me they offer dockside air for many naval bases, including breathing air solutions. At the show they were talking about their medium and high-pressure rental program offering solutions up to 5000 psi! They also have high-pressure dryer rentals which can offer Grade D and E breathing air. This is heavy-duty equipment - check out their cool YouTube pages if you get a chance!
Jim Riley, David Jens, John Temple and Scott Miller (Air-Vac Systems) at the Sauer Compressors USA booth (left to right).
Solberg Filtration was present with Charlie Solberg echoing the theme at the show, “We are happy to see everybody and to see the industry again getting on a roll!” nano was also there celebrating their 10-year anniversary with some choice cupcakes – congratulations! They are currently promoting their D Series of desiccant dryers manufactured in Pennsylvania.
Clint Browning, Charlie Solberg and Andy Spicer at the Solberg Filtration booth (left to right).
Celebrating their 10-year anniversary are Mike Ellis, Todd Allison, Nick Herrig, Jane Sexton and Tony Hergert at the NANO booth (left to right).
OZEN Compressors had a booth where they talked about their new three-stage reciprocating boosters with pressures of 3600 psi (245 bar) and 5000 psi (340 bar) - which they say are particularly suited for laser-cutting applications.
Kingston Valves has been manufacturing valves since 1908 (amazing!) in sunny Southern California. Maddie Lester and Theresa Hinkler told me their best-sellers are their angle-seated valves for desiccant dryers, the KNG line of ½” to 3” safety valves, and their KSV line of 1/8” to 1 ¼” soft-seal safety valves.
Theresa Hinkler and Maddie Lester at the Kingston Valves booth (left to right).
Control Devices is another interesting valve firm and Michael Lewis said their new weighted Flexi-Hinge blower and vacuum relief valves (up to 3”) are doing extremely well due to their one week lead times.
At the Kaishan booth, Dave George told me they have started manufacturing airends already out of their Loxley, Alabama production center. They were talking about the launch of their new 30 to 100 horsepower, 2-stage, VSD rotary screw air compressor line.
Brandon Dial and Dave George at the Kaishan booth (left to right).
ELGi moved into a new, larger facility in Charlotte in October, 2020. Keith Sportsman said they are currently launching the new AB Series of water-injected single-stage rotary screw air compressors with models from 20 to 150 horsepower. This product line will complement their OF Series of oil-free rotary screw air compressors with models from 50 to 500 horsepower. He also mentioned their belt-drive EN Series now has a VFD option.
Hannah Kruger, Phil Kruger (Harris Equipment), Keith Sportsman and Brent Pifer (Central Air Compressor) at the ELGi booth (left to right).
Once again, the AICD exceeded expectations – and it’s indeed BACK and better than ever! I hope this report provides a taste of what happened – there’s no way to cover the whole event and do all the exhibitors justice in these short pages.
To read more about Compressed Air Technology, please visit www.airbestpractices.com/technology.