Industrial Utility Efficiency    

System Assessment

This article discusses some experiences in using cellular connected data loggers to perform a compressed air assessment during a time when travel was restricted. While not ideal, this exercise identified huge savings for this customer.

Compressor Controls

As part of its ongoing corporate initiative to find ways to reduce its energy bills, and the costly impact on the bottom line, a cleaning products plant, located southwest of Chicago, recently focused on improving their compressed air system operation. This company is a global leader in water, hygiene and infection prevention solutions and services. This article discussed their efforts to improve the operation of their compressed air system by implementing an innovative compressed air monitoring and control system.

Piping Storage

Since completion of the system upgrade in the fall of 2020, PC Forge is on track to save an average of 1.9 million kWh and $266,000.00 per year in energy costs – and increase the production capability of its forging operation by 40%. The project also achieved a one-year payback with a $245,000 incentive from Government of Ontario’s utility Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

End Uses

There are a tremendous variety of unique and creative ways people in the food industry have overcome their need for compressed air blowoffs used for cleaning, drying, cooling, conveying and overall processing. You may have seen some of them yourself. It is not uncommon to view open copper tubes, pipes with a crushed end, plugs or caps with holes drilled into them, modular flex coolant lines or nozzles designed for liquid application but blowing air.

Pressure

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.

Air Treatment/N2

Regular testing of pure gases helps to ensure the safety of consumers and of end products. Whether the pure gas is used directly for medical patients, or in the manufacturing of food, beverages, or pharmaceutical products, quality is of the highest importance. Inadequate levels of purity or unsafe contamination can be detrimental to the products or consumers.

Leaks

One of the best ways to reduce compressed air costs is to look for ways to reduce leakage flow, an unnecessary load that is a constant demand on the compressed air system. This flow is never-ending and occurs during production periods, and during quiet times at night or on weekends. Reducing the flow in a well-controlled compressed air system will result in the reduction of compressor energy consumption, usually by about $1,750 per every 10 cfm, and often reduces pressure loss, allowing your machines to run better. This article discusses some recent experiences in using an acoustical imaging leak detector.

Pneumatics

In manufacturing and packaging facilities that rely on pneumatics, there’s a four-letter word worse than virtually any other: leak. Unidentified air leakage and unexpected maintenance in pneumatic systems are significant sources of revenue and productivity loss but identifying the cause of leakages and preventing unforeseen downtime is typically a challenge.

Vacuum Blowers

Operating the vacuum system at higher levels (then necessary) affects the needed volumetric flow to compensate for leaks. This required compensation of volume (ACFM) must be added to the nominal production flow demand. The ambient air leak into the system will expand to the highest vacuum level, which is known as the “Expansion Ratio.”
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.
Often when you mention heat of compression the first thought generally relates to HOC desiccant dryers, which are also an under-applied opportunity for heat recovery. However, there are many other heat of compression recoverable energy savings opportunities in all compressed air and gas systems. This article reviews many opportunities in energy heat recovery and provides answer to commonly asked question.
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.
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.
This article discusses leak assessments and the barriers to effective leak management. Some best practices will be discussed as suggested tips to help you get the most of your leakage reduction efforts. We all hear it time and time again, leakage reduction is one of the first things we can do to reduce compressed air system electrical costs. Yet almost every industrial compressed air system assessment finds high levels of leakage, and too often plant maintenance staff are fully aware they have a problem but fail to act.
Have you ever wondered how to stay “in control” of an engineering organization with a fixed staff and a varying workload, where the engineers all have a mind of their own? “Herding cats” is what they call it.  Of course, that’s normal, right? Well, controlling multiple centrifugal air compressors is pretty close to that model, which can lead to a condition known as “control gap.”  This article discusses the reasons for control gap with centrifugal air compressors and solutions to help avoid it.
“A single ¼-inch leak in a compressed air line can cost a facility from $2,500 to more than $8,000 per year. Locating and fixing leaks will result in significant savings depending on pressure requirements and energy costs.”
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.