We have blogged about the many types of air compressors, ways to maintain your compressed air system, and how to increase compressed air efficiency by utilizing engineering compressed air products. All of these topics spawn from our knowledge and understanding of what it takes to operate and effectively service the products that we design and sell. When it comes to our products we know exactly what we need to convey how good they are, Key Performance Indicators if you will. To go along with those, I thought it would be good to outline some Key Performance Indicators for the air compressor within a system.
So what performance values are critical for an air compressor? Well, power and efficiency are two main KPIs that I would be concerned with. This all connects to the bottom dollar of the cost to operate. So let’s add some more levels in there and get to the list I would list the KPIs as:
Cost/Production Unit Output
These are not necessarily in a top to bottom list of priorities, They are however some that can be easy to monitor and will ultimately lead you to understand the current state of your compressor and the air you are supplying to your facility. Now let’s break these down further.
Pressure Loss – This phenomenon can be prevalent in aging air systems or systems that have been rapidly expanded over the years causing higher demand than the original design of the system permits. Think of when a new housing development opens on a two-lane country road and adds another thousand cars to the road in that area. Rather than a 4 way stop you generally start to see routes expand and intersections improve in order to supply the new demand. Losing pressure throughout the system can be caused by too much demand on a section from new equipment or even failure of old equipment that results in artificial load. Understanding where the pressure loss is occurring or when helps to troubleshoot.
Leakage Rate – Leaks can often account for up to 30% of a system’s capacity/demand. This is not only costly, it also ties to the pressure loss variable we discussed previously. Leakage is a constant battle and something that needs to be checked for every so often on systems that are established. This again results in artificial demand on the system and steals supply from other processes.
Dew Point – The amount of moisture within the compressed air system and the temperature at which it will condense at is a critical point to understand and affects the output quality of the compressor. Moisture can cause lots of quality issues and create maintenance nightmares for machinery if not kept in check. A low dew point helps to keep the compressor operating at an efficient level as the moisture content is low. Should you be located in a very high-humidity climate, then post-compressor equipment like refrigerant dryers can help to reduce this and keep your system operating at an optimal level.
SCFM Output – This can easily be measured with a Digital Flowmeter and is very easily one of the most useful data points to monitor your compressor’s output as well as baseline and improve your supply side. Understanding if your air compressor is operating at a higher percentage of output will help to determine when system expansion is needed and when demand side issues need to be addressed, and also help you to determine the ROI on equipment that utilizes compressed air.
Cost/Production Unit Output – Lastly, understanding the cost of using your compressed air and how that correlates to the output of the facility can help to see just how important a small leak is. It gives insight into the importance of using the compressed air that is generated efficiently and keeps the compressor operating at peak performance rather than putting off maintenance or overloading an undersized system.
If you would like to discuss any of these KPIs for your air compressor or to see how you can increase performance within your system, contact an Application Engineer today.