With the advent of the “Green Movement”, there is a heightened awareness of energy costs. Compressed air is expensive but an essential commodity that cannot be eliminated. Its use though can be monitored and reserved for those applications that make the most sense. Here are 6 steps to take to make the most efficient use of your compressed air.
Measure air consumption to find the sources that use the most compressed air
You can use a flow meter or go by the manufacturer’s air consumption specifications. When you have identified your major sources of air usage, you need to evaluate more efficient alternatives like engineered air nozzles and jets.
Find and fix leaks in your compressed air system
Plants that aren’t maintained can easily waste up to 30% of their compressor output through leaks that go undetected. In plants with high noise levels, it is very difficult to locate leaks by merely listening for them. Most plant noise is in the normal audible range of human hearing while air escaping from a small orifice is ultrasonic. A leak detector will pinpoint leaks that you normally you would not be able to hear. Testing the various unions, pipes, valves and fittings can be done quickly and effectively at distances up to 20′ (6.1m) away!
Replace inefficient blow guns, air nozzles, and open pipe with engineered compressed air products
While open and drilled pipe are cheap to make, their inefficient use of compressed air is quite costly. The difference between the cost to operate an engineered nozzle vs. an open pipe are extremely dramatic.
Turn off compressed air when not in use
Overall consumption can be reduced by intermittently turning the air on and off between cycles or between parts coming down a conveyor. For part ejection from a press operation, the air only needs to be on when the ram is in the open position. For parts traveling down a conveyor there is no sense in blowing air between the spacing of parts. Using a computerize flow control such as an electronic flow controller which is a photoelectric senor with a timing controller that limits compressed air use by turning it off when no part is present.
Use intermediate storage of compressed air near the point of use.
A common mistake when low on air is to crank up the pressure at the compressor. That is a very costly mistake. Increasing system pressure by 10 PSI results in a 5% increase in energy. A better method is to install a storage tank at or near the point of use. This will store compressed air for those peak durations without having to increase the system pressure.
Control the air pressure at the point of use to minimize air consumption.
The more pressure you put onto an orifice the greater the volume of air will pass through it. EXAIR highly recommends using a pressure regulator. Start off a low setting and increase the pressure until it just gets the job done. That way you are only using the amount of air required for the application.
If you would like some assistance in your compressed air energy conservation give one of our application engineers a call at 1-800-903-9247.