A major automotive company needed a newer and more efficient compressed air system at one of its manufacturing plants. The original system had been operating inefficiently with old equipment and controls. Faced with a major capital investment, the plant switched to a performance contracting model.
Products manufactured at the 100,000-square-foot plant in Kentucky include columns, I-shafts, covers, keylocks, and other dressings, along with shifter applications, such as straight, tap-up/tap-down and gated shifters. In all, the facility supplies automakers with products used in more than 100 different applications, all of which are designed keep vehicles operating safely, smoothly and reliably.
As founding members of a startup company in the compressed air and gas purification and separation industry, nano-purification solutions felt a kinship with the owners, employees and mission of Death Wish Coffee Co. The kinship and nano-purification solutions’ expertise in onsite nitrogen generation led to the installation of a nitrogen generation system that contributes to the overall efficiencies and operational costs savings at the coffee roaster’s production operation in Round Lake, New York.
One of the challenges with compressed air system design is dealing with periodic large flow demands. Food and beverage manufacturers are among those process industries that often face these events. Adding in the compressed air demands of onsite packaging further adds to the task.
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.
Tate & Lyle’s sustainability actions involve countless initiatives worldwide to minimize its environmental impact by reducing emissions and using water sustainably. Whether it’s the use of a low-pressure blower instead of a high-pressure compressed air system to save energy, or a \$75 million natural gas-fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) system to replace coal as a power source at its corn wet mill in Lafayette, Indiana, Tate & Lyle is on a mission to protect the planet.
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.
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.
A Tier 1 automotive supplier was concerned its compressed air system was not operating as efficiently as it could be. The situation called for a site visit and metering and evaluation of the company’s air compressors to generate a representative data sample that accurately captured the compressed air needs during typical production and non-production periods.
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.
Manufacturers familiar with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ENERGY STAR® Energy Treasure Hunts initiative know it’s a great way to save energy and natural resources – as long as it’s done right – which is why some are turning to perhaps their best asset to achieve success: their unionized workforce.