On November 2, 2017 at 2 PM EDT, EXAIR Corporation will be hosting a FREE webinar titled “Optimizing Your Compressed Air System In 6 Simple Steps”.
During this short presentation, we will explain the average cost of compressed air and why it’s important to evaluate the current system. Compressed air can be expensive to produce and in many cases the compressor is the largest energy user in a plant, accounting for up to 1/3 of the total energy operating costs. In industrial settings, compressed air is often referred to as a “fourth utility” next to water, gas and electric.
Next we will show how artificial demand, through operating pressure and leaks, can account for roughly 30% of the air being lost in a system, negatively affecting a company’s bottom line. We will provide examples on how to estimate the amount of leakage in a system and ways to track the demand from point-of-use devices, to help identify areas where improvements can be made.
To close, we will demonstrate how following six simple steps can save you money by reducing compressed air use, increasing safety and making your process more efficient.
As margins get tighter and cost of manufacturing climbs, industries are looking into other areas to be more economical. A big focus today is in the compressed air systems. Compressed air is considered to be the “forth” utility behind gas, water, and electricity. It is a necessary system to run pneumatic systems, but it is the least efficient of the utilities. For every $1.00 that is put into making compressed air, you only get roughly 5¢ of work from it. So, it is very important to use this utility as efficiently as possible.
One of the largest problems affecting compressed air systems is leaks. That quiet little hissing sound coming from the pipe lines is costing the company much money. A university study was conducted to find the percentage of air leaks in a typical manufacturing plant. In a poorly maintained system, they found on average that 30% of the compressor capacity is lost through air leaks. In relation to the amount of electricity required to make compressed air, for every ten power plants producing electricity, there is one power plant producing electricity just for air leaks. A majority of companies do not have a leak prevention program; so, many of these companies have poorly maintained systems. This creates a large amount of waste caused by simple air leaks. To put a dollar value on it, a leak that you cannot physically hear can cost you as much as $130/year. That is just for one inaudible leak in hundreds of feet of compressed air lines. For the leaks that you can hear, you can tell by the chart below the amount of money that can be wasted by the size of the hole. Unlike a hydraulic system, compressed air will not leave a tell-tale sign of a leak. You have to locate them by some other means.
Most leaks occur where you have threaded fittings, connections, hoses, and pneumatic components like valves, regulators, and drains. The Optimization products from EXAIR are designed to help optimize your complete compressed air system. The most effective way is to find and eliminate air leaks, and EXAIR has two products that can help do this. The Ultrasonic Leak Detectors can find the air leaks, and the Digital Flowmeters can monitor your system for air leaks. With both of these products included in a leak prevention program, you will be able to keep your compressed air system running optimally and reduce the wasted cost in air leaks and overusing the air compressor.
When a leak occurs, it emits an ultrasonic noise caused by turbulence. These ultrasonic noises can be at a frequency above that which is audible for human hearing. The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector can pick up these frequencies and make the leaks audible. With three sensitivity ranges and LED display, you can find very minute leaks in your compressed air system. It comes with two attachments; the parabola to locate leaks up to 20 feet away, and the tube attachment to define the exact location in the pipe line. Once you find a leak, it can be marked for fixing.
With the Digital Flowmeters, you can continuously monitor for waste. Air leaks can occur at any time within any section of your pneumatic area. You can do systematic checks by isolating sections with the Digital Flowmeter and watching for a flow reading. Another way to monitor your system would be to compare the results over time. With the Digital Flowmeters, we have a couple of options for recording the air flow data. We have the USB Datalogger for setting certain time increments to record the air flows. Once the information is recorded, you can connect the USB to your computer, and with the downloadable software, you can view the information and export it into an Excel spread sheet. We also offer a wireless capability option with the Digital Flowmeters. You can have multiple flow meters communicating through a gateway to monitor and record the flow information onto your computer system. If you find that the flow starts trending upward for the same process, then you know that you have a leak. It can also give you a preventive measure if your pneumatic system is starting to fail.
Compressed air leaks will rob you in performance, compressor life, and electrical cost. It is important to have a leak prevention program to check for leaks periodically as they can happen at any time. The EXAIR Ultrasonic Leak Detector and the Digital Flowmeters will help you accomplish this and optimize your compressed air system. Once you find and fix all your leaks, you can then focus on improving the efficiency of your blow-off devices with EXAIR products and save yourself even more money.
One of the best features of EXAIR products is the engineering behind the designs. For example, our nozzles are designed to generate a maximum force possible per CFM of compressed air. This means that the compressed air consumed by the device is at its maximum possible efficiency, which in turn reduces the compressed air demand in an application, reducing the cost of the solution.
But, how do you determine the cost of a compressed air driven product?
Step 1 – Quantify flow
The first step to determine compressed air cost is to quantify the flow rate of the product. Most pneumatic equipment will have a spec sheet which you can reference to determine air consumption, but open pipe blowoffs and drilled holes won’t provide this type of information. In those cases, or in any case where the compressed air flow is unknown or questionable, a compressed air flow meter can be used. (We have Digital Flowmeters for use on compressed air piping, with or without data logging capability, and with serial or wireless communication.)
Step 2 – Calculate flow over time
Once the flow rate is known, it’s time to determine flow rates per day/week/month/year. To do so, we will perform a bit of short and easy math. What we will do, is use the known flow rate of the device, and multiply this by the total time in operation to determine daily, weekly, monthly, and annual usage rates. For example:
A 1/8” open pipe blowoff will consume 70 SCFM. In an 8 hour shift there are 480 minutes, resulting in a total consumption of 33,600 SCFM per 8 hour shift.
Step 3 – Determine cost
With a quantified flow rate, we can now determine the cost. Many facilities will know the cost of their compressed air per CFM, but for those which don’t, a cost of ($0.25/1000 standard cubic feet) can be used. This value is then multiplied by the total compressed air consumption from above, to give a quantified dollar amount to the compressed air driven device.
Using the flow rate from above:
If (1) shift is run per day, 5 days per week and 52 weeks per year, this open pipe blowoff will have an annual cost of $2,184.00.
Step 4 – Compare
At this point we know the real cost of the device. The benefit to quantifying these flow rates, is when making a comparison to an alternative such as an engineered solution. For example, if we were to replace the open pipe blowoff reference above with an EXAIR 1010SS 1/8” NPT nozzle, the compressed air demand would drop to 13 SCFM, yielding the following flow rates and costs:
If (1) shift is run per day, 5 days per week and 52 weeks per year, this open pipe blowoff will have an annual cost of $405.60.
Comparing these two solutions on an annual basis yields a difference of $1,778.40. This means an air savings which correlates to $1,778.40 per year – just by replacing ONE open pipe blowoff with an engineered solution. Replacing multiple open pipe blowoffs will yield repeat savings.
Determining the cost of a compressed air driven device can clarify the impact of a truly engineered solution. If you have an interest in determining the cost of the compressed air devices in your facility, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer. We’ll be happy to help.
When you take your car into the service shop for an oil change, you notice that they will check all the fluids, air filter, the belt, tire pressure, etc. The reason that they do this is twofold. They want to make sure that your car will not run into any potential safety problems and to get the maximum performance from your vehicle.
EXAIR has been in the forefront of selling efficient, safe, and effective products since 1983. In that time, we wanted to become more than a manufacturer. We wanted to also provide a way to improve your compressed air system. We developed this into our Optimization product line. By design, these products are also twofold. First, it shows the importance of saving compressed air, improving safety and refining processes. Second, it helps to improve the performance of your compressed air system to get the most out of it. I am going to discuss a few points of each product below:
Electronic Flow Control: The EFC is designed to save compressed air. If there are any time gaps in a blowing or cooling application, then we should turn off the compressed air. The EFC is a miniature timing PLC that uses a photoelectric sensor to turn off the compressed air. By using less compressed air, you will be able to save a bunch of money. This is why the light bulb in your refrigerator goes off when the door is closed (or does it?).
Digital Sound Level Meter: This device is used for measuring sound level. For safety reasons, OSHA sets a decibel ratings for work environments. The Digital Sound Level Meter is calibrated to a NIST standard to accurately measure noise level. If you have poor nozzles on your air guns or open pipes for blow-offs, you could be violating the OSHA standard 29CFR 1910.95(a), which will result in fines. EXAIR products are designed to meet this standard.
Ultrasonic Leak Detector (ULD): Many compressed air systems have leaks. If they go unnoticed, this will affect the overall capacity of the compressed air system as well as costing a lot of money. Leaks can account for one-third of your compressed air output. The ULD can find these leaks to optimize your system and to improve the “health” of your compressor.
Digital Flowmeter (DFM): If you can measure flow, then you can find many ways to optimize. The DFM is able to show and record the amount of flow that you are using in your compressed air system. You can also use the Digital Flowmeters to find leaks, diagnose pneumatic problems, and use the recorded information for preventative maintenance. In comparing to an open pipes or competitive products, you can easily see the air savings with EXAIR products and easily determine the payback period (which is generally in weeks). EXAIR does offer options that are wireless, serial, or USB type of recording, so, you can continuously monitor your compressed air system 24/7.
With the Optimization products, it can “service” your compressed air system; so that, you can get the most from it. It can save you money, make your system safe, and keep things pneumatically maintained. If you would like discuss one or more of these products, you can contact an EXAIR Application Engineer for more details.