I was reading an interesting article recently by Joe Schwartz of www.homepower.com. (Click here to read) In the article Mr. Schwartz discusses the issue of “standby loss” which is the electricity used by home appliances even when powered off. His point was that while the standby loss of a single item within a modern home is not significant, the cumulative standby loss of all the appliances we find in a home these days can be quite significant. Everything from DVD players to the small cube style transformers suck electricity 24 hours a day, even when the appliance they power is not in use. This is due to the fact that the primary side of the transformer is not switched off when not in use or there is some feature like a digital clock included. So, it keeps using electricity.
As I was reading the article I was able to draw some very clear parallels to a compressed air system. Since one of our main goals at EXAIR is to help customers save on energy costs for their compressed air systems at the point of use, it was quite easy to make comparable references to “phantom loads”, “standby loads” or just plainly put, those loads on a compressed air system which do not actually produce any positive benefit to the user and which make operation of the overall system quite expensive.
If it has not been stated often enough, compressed air is the most expensive utility used in industrial and manufacturing facilities. And, just like electricity, the proper and efficient use of compressed air is often overlooked as a source of tremendous savings for a company. Just read Joe Panfalone’s recent blog about a customer he worked with who made a simple change from open pipe blowing to using EXAIR Nozzles and saving a lot of money in the process. Besides the windfall savings that Joe’s customer experienced, there are lots of little ways in which you can eliminate completely the phantom power load on your air compressor system.
1. Make your own leak analysis – Walking through the plant during down-time when you can actually hear leaks in the system. Or better yet, use a tool such as the Ultrasonic Leak Detector to find the leaks you cannot hear with the un-aided human ear. Note and tag the leaks for repair and you can have an instant savings of up to 30% on your compressed air production.
2. During the leak analysis – Make note of processes where compressed air is flowing through some nozzle or other device even when the operation or machine is not in use. Installing a simple solenoid valve to shut the air flow off when the machine is not in use can be another huge source of savings. Un-controlled release of compressed air like this is just like walking out of your house when you have all the lights turned on, AC unit running, TV turned on and the water running at the sink, all at the same time! The EXAIR EFC – Electronic Flow Control can even add further control of the air use by timing the air to come on only when absolutely needed in the application.
3. Install energy efficient nozzles – Even in today’s day and age, with all the talk about efficiency in many aspects of life, the end use portion of the compressed air system is overlooked. And so, installing an EXAIR compressed air nozzle engineered for the express purpose of creating force on a target, would be the home energy equivalent of purchasing an Energy star rated appliance for your home.
In conclusion, just as we have many sources of phantom electrical load in our homes, we also have many more sources of phantom compressed air load in our compressed air systems. When rooted out and repaired, can have a significant, cumulative effect on the overall cost to operate the system and improve system capacity to do more productive work for the business.