Full feature Compressor aids disabled engineering solutions unit

Published:  06 March, 2015

MERU, a manufacturer of disability equipment solutions, while upgrading its production facility, required an improved compressed air set-up, which led to the installation of the Mark full feature unit.

MERU was founded as a charity by a senior lecturer in design engineering (William Bond) and a consultant orthopaedic surgeon (Trefor Llewelyn- Bowen), who were both concerned at the lack of clinical facilities that could provide equipment for disabled children. Running costs are met from charitable donations and fund-raising They benefit from being a part of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation for disabled people, which works in a number of areas to help people gain new skills and increased independence.

The result has seen some extremely clever solutions, among them a powered indoor chair called Bugzi. This allows the severely disabled to move themselves around at an early age, substituting the equivalent of movement that a child would normally have at the crawling or early walking stages of development.

The installation of a new CNC machine at its Epsom design offices and workshops, replacing the existing lathes for the milling of metal parts, meant that the quality of air supplied by the old, struggling, piston compressor was just not good enough for the new demands. Gary Scarlett, chief design engineer and facilities manager explained: “The CNC machine needs pure, dry air to operate it…Therefore, we looked for a compressor and dryer combination which could provide that need.”

At the same time it was decided to completely re-spec the compressor to fulfil a number of new requirements. The air-output capacity needed to be increased because there would now be occasions when the CNC machine would be running at the same time as a sandblaster and other air tools. Certain plastic-moulded parts require that there is no moisture contamination and so, once again, the need for dry air was paramount. While 7-8 bar is the constant pressure needed, it was decided to go for a machine with a capacity of 10 bar to cover any contingency situations.

The arrival of the CNC machine meant a need for continuous air supply, so reliability became a key issue, since any interruption to the air supply would mean a complete re-set of the task programmed into the CNC. All these points were coupled with a need for a quieter machine, while still retaining a small footprint to suit the area where it was to be located.

After looking into a number of options, Scarlett and his team opted for a Mark MSM 4kW DX compressor, including a dryer, integrated as a receiver-mounted combination. This fulfilled all the requirements, giving 100% dry air and a noise level as low as 62 dB(A). One member of the team commented: “Compared to the old banging piston machine, we hardly know the Mark compressor is running. It’s a real joy not to have that thumping sound in the corner of our otherwise quiet workshops.”

In addition to the specialist design engineering team, the workforce at Epsom is supplemented by both engineering students on work-experience placements and a number of volunteers.

Once the MSM / DX machine had been selected, Mark Compressors decided to donate the unit to the charity. The unit was installed and will be maintained on an annual service contract, by local Mark distributor, Air Line Systems based in Orpington, Kent.

Gary Scarlett concluded: “We are pleased with this new and efficient addition to our workshop. It will save us in running costs and provide the much needed high quality of air to help us meet the increasing demands for MERU products.”

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