Time and time again we write about how compressed air is considered the fourth utility in a manufacturing setting. Compressed air is a great resource to use, however it needs to be used responsibly!
How you use it in your business is important, for a couple of key considerations:
The Cost of Compressed Air
Compressed air isn’t free. Heck, it isn’t even cheap. According to a Tip Sheet on the U.S. Department of Energy’s website, some companies estimate the cost of generation at $0.18 – $0.30 per 1,000 cubic feet of air. A typical industrial air compressor will make 4-5 Standard Cubic Feet per Minute per horsepower. Let’s be generous and assume that our 100HP compressor puts out 500 SCFM and is fully loaded 85% of the time over two shifts per day, five days a week:
500 SCFM X $0.18/1,000 SCF X 60 min/hr X 16 hr/day X 5 days/week X 52 weeks/year =
$22,464.00 estimated annual compressed air cost
So to minimize the compressed air use and the over all generation costs there are six easy steps to follow!
- Measure: the air consumption You must create a baseline to understand your demand requirements. How can you measure your improvements if you do not understand your total demand or baseline? Installing an EXAIR Flow Meter to your main air lines will help identify the amount of compressed air demand you have and help identify areas of concern.
- Find and fix leaks in the system: The repair of compressed air leaks is one of easiest ways to gain energy savings. In most cases all you need is a keen sense of hearing to locate a leak. Once a you have confirmed a leak then the make the necessary repairs. Harder to find leaks may require tools such as EXAIR’s Ultrasonic Leak Detector. This is a hand held high quality instrument that can be used to locate costly air leaks.
- Upgrade your blow off, cooling and drying operations: Updating your compressed air process tooling can save you energy and help you comply with OSHA noise and safety regulations. An example would be to replace old blow off or open pipe systems with EXAIR Safety Air Nozzles. Replacing open copper tubes or pipes can amount up to 80% air savings. You achieve lower sound levels and significant energy savings.
- Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use: It sounds obvious but how many times has an operator left for a break or lunch and doesn’t shut off the compressed air for his/her station? The minutes add up to a significant amount of time annually meaning there is opportunity for energy savings. The use of solenoid valves will help but EXAIR’s Electronic Flow Control (EFC) will dramatically reduce compressed air costs with the use of a photoelectric sensor and timing control.
- Use intermediate storage of compressed air near the point of use: The use of storage receivers can improve your overall system efficiency in a number of ways. For example, using a main air receiver at the compressor room can make load/unload compressor control more efficient. Localizing receiver tanks such as EXAIR’s 9500-60 sixty gallon receiver tank by the point of use for a high demand process will stabilize the demand fluctuations allowing a more fluid operation.
- Control the air pressure at the point of use to minimize air consumption: The use of pressure regulators will resolve this issue. Using regulators you can control the amount of air being processed at each point of use. EXAIR offers different sized pressure regulators depending upon your air line and process requirements. Regulating the compressed air to the minimum amount required and will reduce your overall demand resulting in annual savings and a payback schedule.
Health & Safety
Injuries and illnesses can be big expenses for business as well. Inefficient use of compressed air can be downright unsafe. Open ended blow offs present serious hazards, if dead-ended…the pressurized (energized) flow can break the skin and cause a deadly air embolism. Even some air nozzles that can’t be dead ended (see examples of cross-drilled nozzles on right) cause a different safety hazard, hearing loss due to noise exposure. This is another case where EXAIR can help. Not only are our Intelligent Compressed Air Products fully OSHA compliant in regard to dead end pressure, their efficient design also makes them much quieter than other devices.
Efficient use of compressed air can make a big difference in the workplace – not only to your financial bottom line, but to everyone’s safety, health, and livelihood. If you’d like to find out more about how EXAIR can help, give me a call.