When some people think about compressed air, they imagine the big, loud, dirty, unreliable machine in the back corner of their facility. Many businesses around the world rely on compressed air, and an unreliable air compressor can mean stopping an entire facility, costing thousands of dollars in lost productivity and repair labor. Additionally, that loud machine in the back corner is also a major energy consumer. So much so that many industry professionals refer to it as the “fourth utility.”
When was the last time you visited your compressor room? A week ago? Several weeks ago? If you are like many, you went in for the last scheduled maintenance interval and have rarely been back since. Air compressors, dryers and other air system components have become more reliable and self sustaining from a maintenance standpoint with each generation, requiring less and less human intervention.
The purpose of this article is to investigate the cause and effect that can occur when you reduce demand with no supply changes and the alternative which will produce positive, long term results which you can take to the bank.
This textile plant uses compressed air in their knitting, sewing, and dye house operations and needed a system designed for the significant fluctuations in demand. Compressed air demand profiles were placed into four segments; 1st shift peak demand and minimum demand, and 2nd shift peak demand and minimum demand.
Compressed air systems are a source of power (a utility) present in virtually all manufacturing and process industries. What is unique about this utility is that facilities own the utility and are responsible for all the installation, generation, transmission, and maintenance costs of the compressed air system. Outsourcing compressed air as a utility, while not a new idea, is a growing trend in industry as service providers have increased their ability to meet customer expectations.
While biodegradable, energy efficient, and recyclable are terms that come to mind when thinking about protecting the environment we live in today, these three terms are also, ironically, directly related to protecting a company's bottom line... profit.
Its simple physics that compressing air gives off heat. The heat energy is concentrated in the decreasing volume of air. To maintain proper operating temperatures, the compressor must transfer excess heat to a cooling media before the air goes out into the pipe system. As much as 90 percent of that heat can be recovered for use in your operation. If you can supplement or replace the electricity, gas or oil needed to create hot water for washrooms, or direct warm air into a workspace, warehouse, loading dock, or entryway, the savings can really add up.
Since the cost of energy has dramatically increased during the past few years, it seems that energy audit companies have opened shop on more city street corners than coffee shops in Seattle. In addition to the mass numbers and abundant varieties of these energy savings promoters, there have been an equal number of energy audit articles written for the engineering magazines.
In the U.S. as an example, the NFPA has taken the view that if your compressor draws in good clean ambient air, the air stays clean through the compressor, is then dried and filtered, when you deliver it to the patient it will be entirely satisfactory. After all, when you went into the hospital that’s what you were breathing and when you leave you will breathe it again!
Located in the bowels of most hospitals, you will find the source of the Level 1 Medical Air compressed air system. Per the NFPA Section 99 Specification (National Fire Protection Association), Level 1 air compressor systems provide air for human consumption within the hospital facility.
Roxane Laboratories, Inc., a subsidiary of Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation located in Columbus, Ohio, created a world-class air system that generated $61,314 per year in electrical energy cost savings (1,156,868 kWh), improved productivity and quality, and allowed the successful completion of a significant plant expansion.