Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Compressor Controls

It was early summer, the air compressors were above the production floor on a mezzanine, and temperatures were heating up both outdoors and indoors. The compressed air system was comprised of three 500-horsepower centrifugal air compressors, and one 350-horsepower variable speed drive oil-free rotary screw air compressor.
The AZEK Company is a producer of durable and low maintenance building materials, and like many manufacturers, it found its compressed air system to be time consuming and expensive to keep maintained. But that changed after the company replaced its outdated and faulty compressed air system with a new design that includes technically advanced air compressors, dryers, receiver tanks – as well as controls to provide better control of the entire system and achieve optimal performance.
When an automotive company added a new 200-horsepower (hp) rotary screw air compressor and accompanying dryer to a satellite building at its Chicago-area assembly plant, it needed a cost-effective way to integrate the equipment into its existing compressed air network. Doing so would allow plant personnel to easily monitor the air compressor’s performance and ensure it operates in harmony with the plant’s centrifugal air compressors. Importantly, it would contribute to efficient and reliabile air compressor operation at all times.
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.
To improve the delivery of compressed air at the plant, which is supplied by low-pressure and high-pressure compressed air systems, the manufacturer took an important first step by using airflow meters to monitor and measure the performance of both systems. Subsequent planning based on actionable data led to a unique compressed air system upgrade that increases the plant’s ability to maintain peak production of high quality glass bottles and containers at all times – while saving $150,000 per year in energy costs. The project also delivered a payback of less than two years.  
Advances in phone technology dramatically improve their function and our experience. More storage, faster speeds, enhanced communication options, bigger and brighter display….and so on. As a result, today’s phones are significantly more powerful – improving our productivity and changing our lives. As for the technology laggards, obsolescence eventually prompts change. Repairing or replacing parts and accessories on the old phones is an increasing challenge. Eventually they have to succumb to technology.
Companies will experience periods of increased production, as well as periods of slower or stopped production. It’s the nature of being in business. Understanding the implications of these business shifts for compressed-air installations (the powerhouse behind a facility’s production) is key for ensuring that air compressors remain functional and efficient. Here are guidelines to ensure your facility’s compressed-air system operates at top performance, no matter the speed of production.
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.
Here’s a review of changes taking place with the continued evolution of remote monitoring of air compressor systems and how the technology stands to improve compressed air maintenance –while adding to the bottom line.
Air compressors need to be matched to load effectively and efficiently. If the air compressors’ range of variation can’t be matched to the system variation, instability and/or inefficiency can result. This article discusses the problem when it isn’t matched, which is called “control gap” and what to do to avoid it.
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.