Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Industries

Outsourcing maintenance agreements for compressed air systems is commonplace in the food and beverage industry. The maintenance programs are often performed by air compressor distributors, who are experts in the specifics of the air compressors and compressed air systems they sell and service.

Auto

The Ford Motor Company Kentucky Truck Plant (KTP) not only manufactures upscale SUVs and pickup trucks painted in wide variety of stellar, high-quality colors and finishes –  it does so cost-effectively by conserving annual compressed air energy of approximately 9.2 GWh thanks to a major overhaul of the plant’s compressed air system.

Bulk

Reverse pulse type dust collectors often represent a challenge to compressed air energy efficiency, and sometimes throw a wrench into the works by causing huge air pressure fluctuations, high transient flows and just plain large leaks. This article discusses this type of dust collector, often installed in food processing plants, and gives some real-life examples of problematic installations. Some suggested measures are mentioned to ensure your dust collectors keep running in a trouble-free manner.

Food

Electricity and compressed air play an important role in the thermal and kinetic processes for everything from mixing and extruding the ingredients, deep-freezing to -13°F (-25°C), dipping into various chocolate coatings through to final packaging. Energy efficiency is therefore right at the top of Unilever’s list of priorities. As part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, this global corporation has succeeded in saving more than $186 million in energy costs from efficiency improvements in production alone since 2008.

Medical

The air is delivered through a distribution piping system that ends with a medical air outlet within the room. Outlet requirements per room are governed by American Institute of America (AIA) Guidelines for Design and Construction of Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities. Equipment is plugged into the medical air outlet to treat the patient. Many studies have been done determining the load required for medical air compressors. The sizing can be calculated using several methods. 

Metals

One topic up for discussion in the metal fabrication industry is the assist gas used for laser cutting. The assist gas is fed into the laser head, and surrounds the laser as it cuts the work piece. The assist gas is intended to facilitate a smoother cut, increase cutting speeds and productivity, and to prevent discoloration, oxidation, scale, burred edges and other defects that can arise from the hot cutting temperatures. Since Nitrogen is an inert gas, it is used as an assist gas on many laser cutting systems to prevent oxygen from coming into contact with the metal while it’s being cut. Nitrogen is supplied to users in traditional cylinders, and with on-site nitrogen generation.

Paper

The facility has a compressed air system consisting of four, 200-horsepower (hp) two-stage water-cooled lubricant-free reciprocating air compressors. The air compressors are controlled individually with local pressure switch controls connected to a common pressure sensing point. These air compressors have been operating since the mid-1960s and are very difficult and expensive to maintain because parts are scarce and service companies with experience servicing this type of air compressor are difficult to find.

Pharmaceutical

This article is intended to show the relationships between risks and specifications, opportunities and responsibility in validation, and in particular, the use of modern and calibrated measurement technology in the sample chain.

Plastics

By making changes primarily focused on compressed air uses, Winpak, an international plastics products manufacturer based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, increased compressed air production capacity and reduced annual energy consumption by 33%. These benefits have been accomplished while the company was making the switch to lubricant-free compressed air to support product quality goals. This article discusses some of these changes and addresses measures that could be implemented in any compressed air system.

Power

A newly constructed ethanol plant experienced control gap issues shortly after comissioning.  This article discusses the cause of the issue and how the problem was solved.

Printing

The Trinity Mirror Group print works on Oldham is one of the UK’s largest newspaper printers. The nine presses in the facility produce around 1million papers every day, including the Independent, the Daily Mirror and a range of local, regional and sports titles. Printing on this scale does not come cheap in energy terms, however. The plant’s annual electricity bill is in the order of £1.5millon. With energy prices on the rise, and a strong desire to improve environmental performance and reduce its carbon footprint, the plant’s management has recently embarked on a project to cut energy use substantially.

Transit

When the New York City Transit Authority (NYCT) set out to comply with local regulations calling for reductions in energy usage, it leveraged new air compressors for use in transit bus maintenance and repair – and took things to another level by recovering air compressor waste heat to provide hot potable water for the bus depot. The air compressor and heat recovery system, installed in spring 2017, is on its way to helping NYCT achieve the best energy savings possible.

Wastewater

The plant upgrades, in combination with a progressive management strategy, allows the plant to consume less energy and reduce its reliance on outside contractors for biosolids removal, resulting in total operational savings of approximately $60,000 per year.  The plant is also positioned to efficiently manage the area’s wastewater for decades to come.
In a strategic approach to improving its management of compressed air, the company initiated an upgrade of its compressed air system at its Midway plant. In so doing, SumiRiko Tennessee saves 2.1 million kWh and $100,000 in energy costs per year at the plant.  Additionally, lower energy use resulted in the reduction in CO2 of 800 tons per year. With a utility rebate, the project paid for itself within two years.
In modern and industrial work settings, people spend more than 90% of their time in enclosed spaces, such as warehouses, office buildings and factories. In most indoor environments, the air contains a variety of chemical and microbial particles, commonly defined as indoor pollutants, which can severely affect human health and product quality (1). Industries like food and beverage, medical devices and pharmaceutical manufacturers rely on their scheduled compliance testing to confirm the presence or absence of issues in workflow pipelines that are detrimental to the daily output and safety of the product.
The project, which also involved the addition of a booster air compressor and receiver tank – along with the installation of an important pressure control valve – gives the automaker the ability to run fewer centrifugal air compressors during peak production. In so doing, the plant saves nearly 6.1 million kWh and more than $600,000 per year in energy costs. The project also qualified for a $369,374 rebate from the local utility, resulting in a six-month project payback – all while improving system reliability.
A chemical packaging facility had done everything right when they last upgraded their compressed air system a few years ago. They installed a Variable Speed Drive (VSD) air compressor and implemented other energy efficiency measures, but plant expansions caused increased system demand, which exceeded the capacity of the system. The packaging lines were now seeing low pressure, causing shut downs in production. And projections showed plant demand would increase even further.
With an eye toward strengthening its competitive edge, GKN opted for a new approach for the compressed air it uses to power metal molding machines in addition to a variety of other applications at its manufacturing facility. After careful analysis and planning with the Total Equipment Company located in Coraopolis, Pennsylvania, GKN opted to move beyond its aging compressed air system – and instead – outsource compressed air as a utility. Doing so allowed it to free up valuable floor space, while also achieving peace of mind since it can now count on a fixed cost for a reliable compressed air supply for years to come.
Often, multiple centrifugal air compressors are set up to simply react to air demand, which requires the system to not only meet the new demand, but also make up for air depleted in the main header. This typically results in too much supply, which results in bypassing the air to atmosphere. The result is wasted energy use.
In terms of compressed air systems, it’s not unusual to see a plant with 10 to 15 air compressors, each of which is rated to provide 3,000 to 4,000 scfm of air. The air is used for everything from moving product, to powering pneumatic tools, pumps, and fans, to cleaning. There are easily 1,500 pneumatic control valves at a single plant.
Plant personnel had experienced ongoing problems with its process grinder performance due to unstable compressed air pressure. This created potential problems in terms of product quality. Grinders do not work properly without the proper pressure. Additionally, plant staff wanted to address these concerns, prior to a proposed 30% increase in production, and suggested raising the header pressure from the current operating pressure of 98 psig to 125 psig. The thought behind this was if the pressure from the header to the grinder process was dropping to 63 psig, then raising the pressure to the process would give the grinders enough pressure to work through higher peak production times.  
The steel mill in this article is a rolling “minimill,” a facility that melts scrap recycled steel and produces rebar for the construction industry. It fits in SIC code 3310. There are many plants like this all over the world, providing an environmentally sound service and product for their local community. They recycle waste steel from local sources and support local infrastructure projects with rebar, using electricity generated locally.
All industrial facilities use some form of compressed air, and in most, the air compressors consume a significant amount of the total energy bill. A facility with a good energy management system is likely to identify their compressed air system as a significant energy user (SEU). If the facility were using an energy management standard, such as ISO 50001, they would be required to assess and track the energy consumption of all their SEU’s. In the case of the metal processing facility, they were measuring the output of more than 250 devices within the plant, including building heaters, RTU’s, dust collectors, and also tracking the consumption of their electricity, natural gas and water.