The information contained in this article, will help the operator to assess his/her systems, and identify where these systems fall within a three-level category. There are many ways, and opportunities to make a compressed air system produce reliable and good quality air. The three levels discussed here could also be characterized as a “continuous improvement plan” which can be achieved over the course of time, and with the occasional investment of money.
Most industrial systems like compressed air have essentially random demand if you look at the long-term life cycle of the system. Hundreds, even thousands of independent small and large subsystems require constant or varying flow. These demands are typically not timed or synchronized with each other, so they aggregate to a fairly random flow profile, within a range. That range changes significantly when production processes change. Certainly a 2-week audit might show some patterns that appear predictable for demand A (“production”) and demand B (“non-production”) or day type, but they change over time as the plant adapts to new production systems and removes old ones. If demand was that profile forever, a lesser experienced auditor might be tempted to size one set of compressors that work perfectly for that profile but not for alternates.
There are some fundamentals when it comes to compressed air system improvements. One strategy that is overlooked is just drawing the details of whatever aspect of a system you are looking at. It is fairly common to see a misdiagnosis of some particular technical issue that would have been obvious should someone have created the drawing to describe the problem.
A food processor was having compressed air problems, so they invited a compressed air auditor into their plant for an assessment and to help them size future permanent air compressors. The plant was experiencing low air pressure and detecting water in the compressed air lines despite having a desiccant air dryer. The auditor thoroughly analyzed the compressed air system production equipment and did end-use assessment and leakage detection. This article discusses the findings leading to a potential cost savings of 52% of the current level.
This article reviews the benefits and design considerations of controlling system pressure from the air compressor room to the production headers and selected production processes and areas. Over the last several decades, the phrase “demand-side control” has become the generic term to describe establishing a “flat line” header pressure using proper storage and an appropriate pressure regulator, or “pressure flow controller.” Use of a demand-side controller to control pressure and flow can be implemented at the entry to the production area header(s) and at selected production areas or processes.
Baseline measurements include flow, power, pressure, production output, and other relevant variables impacting compressed air use. These data evaluate trending averages to develop Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and Energy Performance Indicator (EnPI) parameters and establish base‑year performance. The focus of this article is the application, evaluation, and analysis of baseline measurements to provide information necessary to improve Compressed Air Supply Efficiency.
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.
Whenever we start a compressed-air energy survey there are always two key topics plant personnel feel are paramount – leaks and reducing pressure. In this installment of our series on missed demand-side opportunities we’ll address the importance of compressed air system pressure.
A pharmaceutical plant, has had a compressed air assessment performed on two plant systems. The studies uncovered poor compressed air production efficiency, high air dryer loss, and problems with high flow compressed air uses negatively affecting plant pressure. The plant implemented energy efficiency measures, on the two compressed air systems, saving 46 and 64 percent in energy costs respectively.
The Lafarge Cement Distribution terminal located in Winnipeg, Canada has significantly reduced the site electrical demand and energy charges by changing the way they transport their cement. Two new low-pressure rotary screw air compressors have replaced two large high-pressure air compressors that previously powered their dense phase transport system. The resulting power reduction has saved the company 46 percent in transport operating costs.
When Compressed Air Consultants was starting, in 2003, we were approached by a company experiencing significant problems with their compressed air system. They had compressed air pressure problems causing production interruptions. They had moisture issues causing all kinds of havoc throughout the facility and appeared to be using far too many air compressors for what they wanted to accomplish.