The primary business benefits of an efficient air compressor system are reduced operational costs, reduced maintenance and increased up-time. With that being said, is your compressed air system costing you more than you think it should? Are you having failures, pressure drops, inadequate volume and/or pressure? You might think from these issues that your system has seen better days and is ready to be replaced. However, it is possible that your existing tried and true compressor system has more life left in it than you think and with a few simple steps you could have it performing like a champ again!
It is estimated that typically plants can waste up to 30 percent of their generated compressed air and that cost is substantial. Considering the average cost to generate compressed air is .25 cents per 1000 SCFM, that translates into .075 cents for every .25 cents spent! Considering that energy costs have doubled in the last five years, it couldn’t be more timely to make your air compressor system more efficient.
So just where is all this waste occurring? The largest source of compressed air energy waste is from unused or leaked compressed air and that is followed by line pressure drops, over pressurization and inadequate maintenance of the compressor.
So how can you identify this issues in your system?
1). Finding leaks can be accomplished by several methods such as soapy water applied to a suspected joint or connection or the EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector. It is a high quality instrument that can locate costly leaks in your compressed air system. When a leak is present and audible tone can be heard in the supplied headphones and the LED display will light. This testing can be done up to 20′ away so need to get on a ladder!
2). Pressure drop is caused by is caused by the friction of the compressed air flowing against the inside of the pipe and through valves, tees, elbows and other components that make up a complete compressed air piping system. If the piping system is to small, the flow (volume) will not be sufficient and the devices will not operate properly. The volumetric demand would need to be added up to determine if the piping is of sufficient diameter to flow the required volume. EXAIR’s Digital Flow Meter is an easy way to monitor compressed air consumption and waste. The digital display shows the exact amount of compressed air being used, making it easy to identify piping that may be undersized. Installing one on every major leg of your air distribution system to constantly monitor and benchmark compressed air usage is a fast and efficient way to see what your volume through that distribution leg is.
3). Over pressurization is also an issue, as the pressure is raised to account for high demand periods, system leaks and pressure drops. Unfortunately operating at higher pressures can require as much as 25 percent more compressor capacity than needed, generating wasted air which is called artificial demand.
You can reduce the leakage rate by running the compressor at lower pressures. If you’re short on air, don’t turn up the pressure. Run your compressor at no higher pressure than what you process requires. To relieve peak demands on your system consider the EXAIR Receiver Tank. It store’s compressed air during low usage times and releases it when the demand is increased without working your air compressor system harder.
4). Finally, a preventative maintenance (PM) program will need to be implemented to keep the air compressor system running properly. Two items that are often neglected are the drive belts and filters. Loose belts can reduce compressor efficiency and dirty filters allow dirt to get through the system and cause pressure drops. EXAIR has replacement elements for our line of filter separators to keep you air clean and line pressure down.
By increasing your awareness of the health of your air compressor system and implementing a PM program you can significantly reduce your costs from wasted energy and avoid costly down time from an out of service air compressor.