Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Instrumentation

Plug an electrical device into an outlet. Does it work? Great! For some people that’s all that matters. When it comes to compressed air, many manufacturing plants operate the same way. As long as there is enough air, that’s all that matters. But what if cost control also matters to your company? Smart compressed air users may already know how much air they’re producing, but they also want to know how much air they’re using—and whether they’re using it productively. To find out, they’re taking accurate, real-time measurements using flow meters.  
A common adage that has been quoted many times in this journal is: “If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” This is partly true. It assumes that managers are willing and able to manage the costs and reliability of their compressed air system. Without data, however, they can’t do an effective job. But because managers are at times already overwhelmed with data, more data doesn’t automatically make them a better manager. A better way of saying it is: “Appropriate measurement can make you a better manager.”
Formaldehyde is an organic compound that can adopt several different forms. It can be used in solution form as formalin, as a free gas, or in a solid form as paraformaldehyde prills. Formaldehyde is highly toxic to humans, regardless of the method of intake. At room temperature it is a colorless gas characterized by a pungent odor. Even with very short-term exposure, formaldehyde will cause irritation to the eyes including pain, redness, blurred vision followed by sneezing, soreness, coughing, shortness of breath, headaches and nausea. Exposure to elevated levels can lead to accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema).
SQF is a food safety management company that conducts audits and reports its findings on companies that voluntarily subscribe to its services. Once an audit is performed, SQF releases the data; from this data, other companies can determine who they want to use for packaging and manufacturing. To facilitate the process, SQF has released a guide that provides directives for processes used in manufacturing.
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine interviewed Pascal van Putten (CEO) of  VP Instruments.  -- We founded VP Instruments, in 1999, with the mission being to apply our experience with flow sensor technology to compressed air and gas flow applications in laboratories with a “one size fits all applications” concept. We did some trade shows and sold one unit during the first year – a tough start. So we hired a consultant who helped us re-package the technology completely. This led us to launch the VPFlowMate, in 2002, in a small and easy to use package. The company has taken off since then.
The compressed air system in most industrial and commercial facilities is vital to production machinery and processes. When it goes down so does the plant output. This important utility is often one of the most costly energy consumers in a facility. Yet most compressed air system operators have little knowledge of how their compressed air system is performing and, if problems have happened, do not have an accurate record of what went wrong.
Compressed air is used in a number of processes in the food industry. It is used as an ingredient in whipped products such as ice cream, to slice or cut soft products and to open packagesbefore filling of product. Currently, food manufacturers are under pressure to validate the safety of all ingredients or processes for regulatory compliance, but unfortunately, there is currently no standard method to evaluate the microbial content of compressed air.
For many industrial sites the only indicator of compressed air performance is the big old pressure gauge right outside the maintenance manager’s office. Over the years someone may have penciled a red line on the gauge, and if the pressure falls below the line the manager will start shouting. This is an example of the saying “ What gets measured, gets managed”, definitely the plant pressure in a facility is a very important indicator of adequate compressed air system operation, but is it the only parameter that needs to be monitored? This article explores some important compressed air KPI’s and provides some examples of how they can be collected and used.
One of the strategies discussed in Compressed Air Challenge® seminars is to use remote sensing to better control multiple air compressors.  The use of a pressure signal from a common location downstream of air dryers and filters allows air compressor controls to “see” the downstream pressure better and provide more accurate pressure control. A characteristic of this strategy that is often missed is that remote sensing can also provide better pressure control for single compressor systems, where only one compressor normally runs to feed the plant loads, and can result in lower average compressor discharge pressure and lower more accurate plant pressure regulation, which saves energy.
To gain about one horsepower of mechanical energy from a compressed air powered motor it costs seven times as much at the input of the air compressor. And surprisingly between 20 and 30 percent of this valuable power is lost even before it gets to the end use. Further to this another 10 percent is lost to artificial demand caused by higher than required pressure, and to top that all off, another 10 percent is wasted by equipment that is either inappropriately supplied with compressed air or left to consume air even when the associated production machine has been turned off.  
Compressed Air Best Practices interviewed Gregory Rhames, Asset Reliability Manager/Energy Manager at Verallia. As background, Verallia is the packaging division of Saint-Gobain. Verallia employs 15,500 people globally and makes about 25 billion glass bottles and jars each year. We employ 350 people at Madera where we produce about 1 million wine, champagne and sake bottles per day.