Utilities monitoring paired with machine learning models can reliably predict anomalies, prompting action that can prevent waste and optimize resource use.
In this article, we will provide detail on the characteristics of the baseline system and then share the energy-saving work identified in two projects. These two projects represent work which can be performed by the maintenance teams in every plant. These are also project opportunities we find in almost every plant we visit. The two projects are to (1) repair/replace condensate drains wasting compressed air and (2) to perform a compressed air leak survey.
If there was ever a place where manufacturers can save energy using compressed air and make measurable gains toward sustainability, it’s with pneumatics that power a seemingly infinite variety of machines and processes.
The initial cost of a nitrogen generation system may be greater than high-pressure cylinders and liquid nitrogen containers, but most companies will reach a return on investment within 12-18 months with proper sizing of the system based on process demands. Breweries typically experience savings associated with gases of 50-75% by switching to on-premises nitrogen generation. If a regular maintenance schedule is followed, PSA nitrogen generation systems can have a life expectancy of 15-20 years.
During Dealer Week, they needed enough compressed air to power multiple machines at a time all day long. Keeping simultaneous demos running for all their top machines required airflow of up to 400 cubic feet per minute (CFM). However, outside of Dealer Week, their compressed air demands were quite modest. On a typical day, they only needed 20 CFM to power their dust collection system and pneumatic tools for their dock and warehouse crating areas.
The history of Festo began in 1925 in Germany. Festo USA was founded on March 15th, 1972 in Port Washington on Long Island, with the focus of being a full-line supplier of pneumatics – a focus we continue with today.
Electronics applications typically run their tooling requiring Process Vacuum based on differential pressure from barometric; that is, they control their PVAC pumps to “Inches of Mercury Vacuum”. This is because the parts and pieces being manipulated by vacuum are of certain sizes, shapes, and weights. If the differential pressure across the part is not great enough, then the tooling will fail and result in a loss of product, adverse impact to quality, and production downtime.
Compressed air is used in all the company’s plants and is often the single largest energy end use within them. As a result, compressed air energy-saving measures are often replicable across the company and offer significant positive impacts. One area of focus is with compressed air leaks since they are “the best low hanging fruit to focus on and they always keep popping up and waste energy”.
Do the questions in the title seem like simple questions? There are many things that confuse the issue including air compressor condition, controls as applied, interconnecting pipe size and configuration and effective storage. All of these have been covered in many technical compressed air papers and articles. The topic many don’t use or understand is how to calculate the actual value of these initial questions at the operating sites and conditions.
Moisture can freeze in compressed air systems and cause rust and pitting in pipes and components. It can also flush out the lubricant resulting in accelerated tool wear and damage to valves and cylinders. Moist air is also a rewarding breeding ground for bacteria, which especially in the food and pharmaceutical industries can lead to product rejection and costly production downtime. It is therefore strange that many companies limit themselves to measuring only basic quantities such as pressure, flow and (absorbed) power.
The dust is collected on the bag or fingers, and when the cake of dust is of appropriate thickness and structure, a pulse or pulses of compressed air hits or shocks the bag and knocks the cake off. This pulse may sometimes be accompanied by physical shaking and even reverse air flows, depending on design.