Six Steps to Optimization: Step 6 – Control the Air Pressure at the Point of Use to Minimize Air Consumption

Since air compressors use a lot of electricity to make compressed air, it is important to use the compressed air as efficiently as possible.  EXAIR has six simple steps to optimize your compressed air system.  Following these steps will help you to cut your production costs and improve your bottom line.  In this blog, I will cover the sixth step; controlling the air pressure at the point of use.

Regulators

One of the most common pressure control devices is called the Regulator.  It is designed to reduce the downstream pressure that is supplying your system.  Regulators are commonly used in many types of applications.  You see them attached to propane tanks, gas cylinders, and of course, compressed air lines.  Properly sized, regulators can flow the required amount of gas at a regulated pressure for safety and cost savings.

EXAIR designs and manufactures compressed air products to be safe, effective, and efficient.  By replacing your “old types” of blowing devices with EXAIR products, it will save you much compressed air, which in turn saves you money.  But, why stop there?  You can optimize your compressed air system even more by assessing the air pressure at the point-of-use.  For optimization, using the least amount of air pressure to “do the job” can be very beneficial.

1100 Super Air Nozzles

Why are regulators important for compressed air systems?  Because it gives you the control to set the operating pressure.  For many blow-off applications, people tend to overuse their compressed air.  This can create excessive waste, stress on your air compressor, and steal from other pneumatic processes.  By simply turning down the air pressure, less compressed air is used.  As an example, a model 1100 Super Air Nozzle uses 14 SCFM of compressed air at 80 PSIG (5.5 bar).  If you only need 50 PSIG (3.4 bar) to satisfy the blow-off requirement, then the air flow for the model 1100 drops to 9.5 SCFM.  You are now able to add that 4.5 SCFM back into the compressed air system. And, if you have many blow-off devices, you can see how this can really add up.

In following the Six Steps to optimize your compressed air system, you can reduce your energy consumption, improve pneumatic efficiencies, and save yourself money.  I explained one of the six steps in this blog by controlling the air pressure at the point of use.  Just as a note, reducing the pressure from 100 PSIG (7 bar) to 80 PSIG (5.5 bar) will cut your energy usage by almost 20%.  If you would like to review the details of any of the six steps, you can find them in our EXAIR blogs or contact an Application Engineer at EXAIR.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Engineered Compressed Air Nozzles and Utility Rebates

When EXAIR started to manufacture compressed air products, we created a culture in making high quality products that are safe, effective, and efficient.  Being leaders in this industry, we created a program, the Efficiency Lab, to compare blow-off devices with EXAIR products in noise levels, flow requirements, and force measurements.  With calibrated test equipment, we compare the data in a qualified report to share with our customers.  This information can be helpful to determine the total amount of air savings and safety improvements that EXAIR products can offer.

Flat SANs 1in
Zinc Aluminum models are suitable for general purpose blow off (left) and 316SS models are specified for food/pharma and high heat applications.

In conjunction with the Efficiency Lab, we created a Cost Savings Calculator.  It is a quick way to view payback periods and annual savings when using EXAIR products.  As an example, I used a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle, model 1126, and compared it to a 1/8” open pipe.  (The reason behind the comparison is that the model 1126 can screw onto the end of the 1/8” NPT pipe.)  With an operation of 24 hours/day for 250 days a year, the amount of air used by an 1/8” open pipe is near 70 SCFM (1,981 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  The model 1126 has an air consumption of 10.5 SCFM (297 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  By putting the information in the Cost Savings Calculator, it determined that the ROI was in 2.1 days.  The annual savings was $5,355 USD per year.  Imagine if you replaced ten blow-off spots in your facility, the amount of money that could be saved.  Here is the worksheet below:

flat 1

The people that started to notice the savings were the utility companies that make electricity.  Depending on your location, electrical suppliers initiated a rebate program to use engineered nozzles in your facility.  Similar to other energy saving rebates, like LED light bulbs and high efficiency furnaces, the electrical providers notice a big savings when using EXAIR products.  If you qualify, the total cost to purchase and implement the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are reduced.(Even if a rebate program has not been implemented in your area, the idea of saving energy and compressed air makes it very profitable and environmentally sound in changing over to EXAIR products).

To see if your utility offers rebates on compressed air optimizations, go to the DSIRE database. This database is easy to search and informative.

For Example, here in Ohio Duke Energy has a Prescriptive Incentive Program for its customers. The Prescriptive Incentive Program makes it easy for Duke Energy customers to receive an incentive for their natural gas and electric energy efficiency projects. Prescriptive Incentives are energy efficient measures paid per-unit, reimbursing the customer up to the total cost (including materials and labor) after the measures have been installed. See the image below for their incentives for using Engineered Nozzles;

capture.jpg
Ohio Duke Energy Prescriptive Incentive Program

https://www.duke-energy.com/business/products/smartsaver/industrial-equipment

To discuss your application and how an EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product can help your process and save you money, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer

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Six Steps to Optimization, Step 4 – Turn Off Your Compressed Air When Not in Use

Step 4 of the Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System is ‘Turn off the compressed air when it isn’t in use.’  Click on the link above for a good summary of the all the steps.

6 Steps from Catalog

Two basic methods to set up a compressed air operation for turning off is the ball valve and the solenoid valve. Of the two, the simplest is the ball valve. It is a quarter turn, manually operated valve that stops the flow of the compressed air when the handle is rotated 90°. It is best for operations where the compressed air is needed for a long duration, and shut off is infrequent, such as at the end of the shift.

manual_valves (2)
Manual Ball Valves, from 1/4 NPT to 1-1/4 NPT

The solenoid valve offers more flexibility. A solenoid valve is an electro-mechanical valve that uses electric current to produce a magnetic field which moves a mechanism to control the flow of air. A solenoid can be wired to simple push button station, for turning the air flow on and off – similar to the manual valve in that relies on a person to remember to turn the air off when not needed.

wa_solvalv
A Wide Array of Solenoid Valve Offerings for Various Flows and Voltage Requirements

Another way to use a solenoid valve is to wire it in conjunction with a PLC or machine control system. Through simple programming, the solenoid can be set to turn on/off whenever certain parameters are met. An example would be to energize the solenoid to supply an air knife when a conveyor is running to blow off parts when they pass under. When the conveyor is stopped, the solenoid would close and the air would stop blowing.

The EXAIR EFC (Electronic Flow Control) is a stand alone solenoid control system. The EFC combines a photoelectric sensor with a timer control that turns the air on and off based on the presence (or lack of presence) of an object in front of the sensor. There are 8 programmable on/off modes for different process requirements. The use of the EFC provides the highest level of compressed air usage control. The air is turned on only when an object is present and turned off when the object has passed by.

efcapp
EFC Used To Control Bin Blow Off Operation

By turning off the air when not needed, whether by a manual ball valve, a solenoid valve integrated into the PLC machine control or the EXAIR EFC, compressed air usage will be minimized and operation costs reduced.

If you have questions about the EFC, solenoid valves, ball valves or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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Cabinet Cooling with Thermostat Control and ETC

An EXAIR Cabinet Cooler® System with either the Thermostat Control or the Electronic Temperature Control (ETC) option includes a temperature measuring device that is used to control the operation of the Cabinet Cooler System to maintain the set-point temperature.Thermostat and ETC

For most industrial enclosure cooling applications, a temperature of 95°F (35°C) is sufficient to be below the rated maximum operating temperature of the electrical components inside the cabinet. EXAIR Thermostats are preset to 95°F (35°C) and are adjustable. Maintaining the cabinet at 95°F (35°C) will keep the electronics cool and provide long life and reduced failures due to excessive heat. But if 95°F (35°C) is good, why not cool the cabinet to 70°F (21.1°C)?

When cooling an enclosure to a lower temperature, two things come into play that need to be considered. First, the amount of external heat load (the heat load caused by the environment) is increased. Using the table below, we can see the effect of cooling a cabinet to the lower temperature. For a 48″ x 36″ x 18″ cabinet, the surface area is 45 ft² (4.18 m²). If the ambient temperature is 105°F (40.55°C), we can find from the table the factors of 3.3 BTU/hr/ft² and 13.8 BTU/hr/ft² for the Temperature Differentials of 10°F (5.55°C) and 35°F (19.45°C). The factor is multiplied by the cabinet surface area to get the external heat load. The heat load values calculate to be 148.5 BTU/hr and 621 BTU/hr, a difference of 472.5 BTU/hr (119.1 kcal/hr)

External Heat Load

The extra external heat load of 472.5 BTU/hr (119.1 kcal/hr) will require the Cabinet Cooler System to run more often and for a longer duration to effectively remove the additional heat. This will increase, unnecessarily, the operating costs of the cooling operation.

The other factor that must be considered when cooling an enclosure to a lower temperature is that the Cabinet Cooler cooling capacity rating is effected. I won’t go into the detail in this blog, but note that a 1,000 BTU/hr Cabinet Cooler (rated for 95°F (35°C cooling) working to cool a cabinet down to 70°F (21.1°C) instead of 95°, has a reduced cooling capacity of 695 BTU/hr (174 kcal/hr).  The reduction is due to the cold air being able to absorb less heat as the air rises in temperature to 70°F instead of 95°F.

In summary – operating a Cabinet Cooler System at 95°F (35°C) provides a level cooling that will keep sensitive electronics cool and trouble-free, while using the least amount of compressed air possible.  Cooling to below this level will result in higher operation costs.

If you have questions about Cabinet Cooler Systems or any of the 15 different EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product lines, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or any of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer
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How To Propose A Cost Saving Strategy To Management

Chances are if you have been on your job for a little while, you have noticed some processes or equipment that takes excessive time, wastes energy, etc.. and delivers less than optimal results.  So, just how do you communicate those observations to management in your organization?  You certainly do not want to embarrass yourself by having your idea torpedoed, nor let the company continue wasting money on inefficient processes or equipment.  The question becomes, how do you present your cost savings plan to the management team?  This blog will help you with that very question!

Your idea(s) for cost savings should be presented clearly and concisely with some key information highlighting the cost and the savings.  The simplest way to accomplish this is to quantify the savings for a given period of time and the payback schedule.  The payback schedule is generally calculated by dividing the cost of the project by the forecast savings.  Generally speaking, the shorter the time required for payback, the better the odds of your project being approved.

To start the process generate a (1) page overview that states the problem, cost of your proposal and the forecast savings.  A thorough and concise presentation will help sway any naysayers in the group, and you should include detailed information that includes current operating costs and how you arrived at those figures.

In the compressed air industry, EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air products provide some easy installations and quick payback times without sacrificing production or quality – in many cases, we can improve production and quality.  Let’s consider the case below, where open tubes were being used to blow off punch presses.  We started by capping off (4) of the open tubes and trying one EXAIR 1100 Air Nozzle with a defined air pattern and we clearly needed more force.  That is when we attached the second super air nozzle, and voila! We had the amount of force and the air pattern required for this application, all while greatly minimizing air consumption and noise!  The image below shows what a sample air savings presentation sheet or test sheet may look like. 

Open Tube Cost Comparison

Considering the EXAIR 1100 Super Air Nozzle are $39 each, you can calculate that the payback time is slightly less than 10 working days per press, since two nozzles were used for each press.

When considering larger and more in-depth projects, naturally more documentation and information will be required.  In addition to the requirements for the above example, just be sure to include the following points:

  • List the action items for your proposal and any purchases that may be necessary.
  • Outline your proposed savings and document how you arrived at that number.
  • Discuss anything that may cause delays or not go as planned, and if possible, suggest viable workarounds.
  • Create a milestone schedule for all the major points in your plan.
  • Create illustrations.

If you would like to discuss increasing the efficiency of your compressed air usage, quieter compressed air products, and/or any EXAIR product,  I would enjoy hearing from you. Give me a call.

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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Super Air Nozzles; Rebates, Environmental Protection, and Energy Savings.

Family of Nozzles

Recently, I wrote a blog, “Flat Super Air Nozzles: Build Your Own System Overview”.  It described how the Flat Super Air Nozzles could be used singly or joined together with accessories for flexibility in your application.  In addition, it demonstrated the amount of compressed air savings and reduction in energy consumption to save you money.  Tyler Daniel, a colleague, wrote a similar blog on “ROI – Is it Worth the Investment?”  He explains the quick payback or ROI (Return on Investment) by using EXAIR Super Air Knives.  In both posts, the word “Super” is intertwined with the product name.  To expand a bit further, the word, “Super” is more than just a word.  It is about cost savings, efficiency, and energy conservation.   In this post, I will dive a bit more into the reasons why EXAIR uses the word, “Super”, and how it can help you.

When EXAIR started to manufacture compressed air products, we created a culture in making high quality products that are safe, effective, and efficient.  Being leaders in this industry, we created a program, the Efficiency Lab, to compare blow-off devices with EXAIR products in noise levels, flow requirements, and force measurements.  With calibrated test equipment, we compare the data in a qualified report to share with our customers.  This information can be helpful to determine the total amount of air savings and safety improvements that EXAIR products can offer.

With the total amount of energy savings that the EXAIR products can provide, EXAIR was able to partner with Energy Star and the Environmental Protection Agency.  This commitment by EXAIR for reducing energy to protect the environment for future generations is a cornerstone for our business model.  Compressors use electricity to produce compressed air.  In most industries, they consider compressed air as a fourth utility.  If you have pneumatics in your facility wouldn’t it be best to use it, and the electricity it requires, as efficiently as you can?

In conjunction with the Efficiency Lab, we created a Cost Savings Calculator.  It is a quick way to view payback periods and annual savings when using EXAIR products.  As an example, I used a 1” Flat Super Air Nozzle, model 1126, and compared it to a 1/8” open pipe.  (The reason behind the comparison is that the model 1126 can screw onto the end of the 1/8” NPT pipe.)  With an operation of 24 hours/day for 250 days a year, the amount of air used by an 1/8” open pipe is near 70 SCFM (1,981 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  The model 1126 has an air consumption of 10.5 SCFM (297 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  By putting the information in the Cost Savings Calculator, it determined that the ROI was in 2.1 days.  The annual savings was $5,355 per year.  Imagine if you replaced ten blow-off spots in your facility, the amount of money that could be saved.  Here is the worksheet below:

Why did I bring this up?  Besides showing the “hidden” extra cost that is wasted when using sub-standard blow-off devices, it also shows the amount of compressed air that was saved.  By using the model 1126, we were able to save 21,420,000 cubic feet of air per year (596,043 cubic meters of air per year).  With this amount of energy savings, people take notice.

The people that did take notice were the utility companies that make electricity.  Depending on your location, electrical suppliers initiated a rebate program to use engineered nozzles in your facility.  Similar to other energy saving rebates, like LED lightbulbs and high efficiency furnaces, the electrical providers notice a big savings when using EXAIR products.  If you qualify, the total cost to purchase and implement the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles are reduced.  (Even if a rebate program has not been implemented in your area, the idea of saving energy and compressed air makes it very profitable and environmentally sound in changing over to EXAIR products).  The website is DSIRE.  “DSIRE is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States.”  Check it out to see if your area has instituted a rebate program.

When EXAIR uses the word “Super”, it is much more than just an adjective.  It shows the quality and precision that EXAIR uses in manufacturing our products, and the amount of cost and energy savings that can be generated.  Being backed by Energy Star, EPA, and rebate programs, EXAIR can help companies to upgrade their pneumatic systems.  Together, we can save energy, improve the environment, and reduce compressed air.  If you would like to discuss how EXAIR can work for you, you can contact an EXAIR Application Engineer to see if we can put the word, “Super”, into your compressed air program.

John Ball
Application Engineer
Email: johnball@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_jb

Intelligent Compressed Air: How to Develop a Pressure Profile

An important part of operating and maintaining a compressed air system is taking accurate pressure measurements at various points in the compressed air distribution system, and establishing a baseline and monitoring with data logging.  A Pressure Profile is a useful tool to understand and analyze the compressed air system and how it is functioning.

Pressure Profile 1
Sample Pressure Profile

The profile is generated by taking pressure measurements at the various key locations in the system.  The graph begins with the compressor and its range of operating pressures, and continues through the system down to the regulated points of use, such as Air Knives or Safety Air Guns.  It is important to take the measurements simultaneously to get the most accurate data, and typically, the most valuable data is collected during peak usage periods.

By reviewing the Pressure Profile, the areas of greatest drop can be determined and the impact on any potential low pressure issues at the point of use.  As the above example shows, to get a reliable 75 PSIG supply pressure for a device or tool, 105-115 PSIG must be generated, (30-40 PSIG above the required point of use pressure.)  As a rule of thumb, for every 10 PSIG of compressed air generation increase the energy costs increase 5-7.5%

By developing a total understanding of the compressed air system, including the use of tools such as the Pressure Profile, steps to best maximize the performance while reducing costs can be performed.

If you have questions about getting the most from your compressed air system, or would like to talk about any EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air® Product, feel free to contact EXAIR and myself or one of our Application Engineers can help you determine the best solution.

Brian Bergmann
Application Engineer

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