Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Piping/Storage

During an Energy Review at a relatively new health care garment factory, in the Southwest, we found all three of the 100 psig nominally rated rotary screw air compressors were operating at 115-120 psig continuously. We asked the Production Superintendent if this was normal or if something had recently changed. He explained that initially they operated two air compressors but had to begin running the 3rd unit in ‘trim’ mode after some converting machines were up-graded. Then, a new larger converting machine was recently installed and air pressure quickly became a production issue. Since capital funds were tight, the project engineering team determined the third air compressor had sufficient capacity.  
In aerospace manufacturing, tiny details matter most. For instance, if proper torque is not applied to the screws and bolts fastening an aircraft fuselage, catastrophic failures can result. Compressed air is used to power the tools needed to apply that torque, making the compressed air system a critical part of the facility, though it largely stays behind the scene.
Insufficient focus at the design phase will kill a project. In one aerospace project, insufficient detail was paid to the physical size of the air compressor. The compressor didn’t fit in the allocated space—requiring the extension of the building, and costing tens of thousands of unbudgeted dollars. That had a significant, negative impact on the project return. 
Sometime in mid-2015, I received a call from a project engineer at a major plastics firm. He had a troubling issue with one of his PET bottle plants. The bottom line was this: They could not run all five high production blow-molding machines at one time—even though they were able to do so 18 months previously.
A Canadian fiberglass plant has completed a lengthy compressed air improvement journey and achieved significant efficiency gains by applying “the systems approach.” Along the way, the company ran across many frustrating problems, the solutions to which were only determined after the entire system was monitored holistically using data loggers. The overall compressed air audit led to a reduction in energy usage of 48 percent, yielding savings worth $17,500 per year. The project also qualified for a large utility incentive of $32,000 with a calculated payback of 4.4 years.
A major snack food manufacturer spends an estimated $148,220 annually on energy to operate the compressed air system at its food processing plant located in the Mid-Atlantic area.  As electric rates rise from their current average of 8 cents per kWh, their annual expenditure will only increase.
Compressed air is often overlooked in energy studies. For those willing to look, however, it is a land of opportunity. Since it takes about 8 hp of electrical energy to produce 1 hp worth of work with compressed air, it is also particularly rewarding to evaluate and optimize the compressed air system in your facility. In this article, we evaluate four specific areas of a compressed air system that can provide significant energy savings.
Corporate announces it is participating in the ISO 50001 Energy Management certification program and issues the edict to all itsmanufacturingfacilitiesto come up with plan to reduce energy consumption by 25%. Plant management calls a meeting to discuss how this ambitious goal can be met. Since energy is one of the largest controllable components in a compressed air system, the group decides to start there. Arecentsupply side assessment conducted in conjunction with a compressed air specialist confirmed the compressors are energy hogs. Based upon the analytical simulation run by the specialist, a recommendation was made to upgrade the compressor network with a System Master Control. The project is moving forward making it good starting point in the overall energy reduction plan. What next?
Throughout its history, Watts Water Technologies has prided itself on providing plumbing, heating, and water quality solutions that are in full compliance with federal and state mandates. With the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act that took effect on January 4, 2014, Watts Water continued its commitment to compliance when it set to work planning a multi-million dollar lead-free foundry in Franklin, NH.
The development of extruded aluminum piping is a recent innovation in the compressed air industry. The internal bore of this piping is smooth and corrosion resistant which makes the pressure differential characteristics of a straight run of this pipe superior to that of steel pipe. Because it is much lighter than steel pipe the installation is much easier. And the manufacturers of this style of piping have come up with various twist lock connectors to make the installation even simpler.
The Compressed Air Challenge® Fundamentals and Advanced training discuss the benefits of using central controllers to efficiently control system compressors. These systems are called “System Master” controls. Modern day System Master Controls use advanced technologies to network air compressors in a preprogrammed sequence. A properly configured network with the right size and type of trim compressor can typically hold the supply air pressure in a tight band of +/- 2 psi. Because of this capability, many users feel the application of System Master Control negates the benefit of applying Pressure-Flow Control to stabilize the plant air pressure.