Industrial Utility Efficiency    


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.


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.


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.


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 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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.
A plastic product manufacturer spends an estimated $245,000 annually on electricity to operate the air compressors in a compressed air system at its plant located in a midwestern U.S. state.  The main manufacturing process is plastic extruding. The current average electric rate, at this plant, is 7 cents per kWh. The compressed air system operates 8,760 hours per year and the load profile of this system is relatively stable during all shifts.
Paying close attention to compressed air use is paramount for identifying potential energy-saving projects. The engineering team at Ball Corporation has been well aware of this fact for years. An active member in the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program, Ball Corporation scrutinizes manufacturing processes to maximize the energy efficiency of compressed air systems in each of its plants.
A small Australian company, Basil V.R. Greatrex (BVRG), is shaking up the compressed air industry in Australia. While other companies focus on the sale of more and bigger compressed air production equipment, BVRG is helping customers reduce their compressed air system size and lower system flow by attacking waste, inappropriate use, and at the same time improving air quality.
At a Midwest window manufacturing plant, the cooling process for the plastic frame pieces, after leaving the extruder, was critical to process productivity and quality. Too much cooling air (or not enough cooling air) would generate scrap and rejected product. The plants’ 17 extruders and 55 separate blow-offs in these lines had similar cooling stations at the cooling boxes. They consisted of about three hoses at each exit frame angled down to the extruded piece moving past it. The compressed air flow was controlled by a manual control valve set by an operator. The operator used his experience to control the flow delivered and thereby control the product quality.
A major poultry processor and packager spends an estimated $96,374 annually on energy to operate the compressed air system at its plant located in a southern U.S. state.  The current average electric rate, at this plant, is 8 cents per kWh.
Metaldyne Performance Group (called MPG in this article) Plant 1 in Columbus, Indiana (formerly known as Impact Forge) has made significant efficiency improvements to their compressed air system.  With the help of their service provider, IAC Air Compression, MPG has implemented some innovative control on their existing air compressors, added new air compressors with variable capacity control, and tied everything together with a modern central controller.  This installation has been recognized for its wise use of power by their power utility Duke Energy.
The useful and various properties of nitrogen (N2) in industrial applications rank it as one of the most specified gases in industry. For the manufacturer, nitrogen options exist in the choice of delivery system, compliance with clean air standards, safety and purity. In researching these choices, manufacturers can accurately select the optimum nitrogen supply required, often at a considerable savings. Selecting purity levels of 99.99% or higher in many industries and applications ads a variety of costs, both financial and efficiency, which may be needlessly incurred.
Made from various combinations of hops, grain, yeast and water, beer is a drink that has been produced for centuries. But while the ingredients are simple, the chemical processes behind the drink are anything but. Through various reactions, barley becomes fermentable sugars that are then digested by the active yeast to produce carbonation and alcohol. Although the basic principles behind brewing are little changed since their advent, the technological aspects are much improved. Today, large stainless steel tanks are used for fermentation and wort aeration, and complex, automated systems help with everything from temperature regulation to bottling.
Compressed air optimization measures adopted by PTMSB have reduced the consumption of compressed air by 31 percent resulting in savings of about 3,761,000 kWh per year in energy consumption. The monetary savings are MYR 1,090,627 per year ($255,000 USD). The CO2 reduction is estimated at 2,735 ton per year.
As a result of compressed air awareness training and a focus on energy management, two facilities in different parts of the world have reduced their compressed air demand substantially by removing vortex style cabinet coolers from some of their electrical panels and reworking the cooling systems.  These facilities were previously unaware of the high cost of compressed air and how much could be saved if other methods of cooling were used. This article describes some of their efforts in demand reduction.