Opportunities To Save On Compressed Air

If you’re a regular reader of the EXAIR blog, you’re likely familiar with our:

EXAIR Six Steps To Optimizing Your Compressed Air System

This guideline is as comprehensive as you want it to be.  It’s been applied, in small & large facilities, as the framework for a formal set of procedures, followed in order, with the goal of large scale reductions in the costs associated with the operation of compressed air systems…and it works like a charm.  Others have “stepped” in and out, knowing already where some of their larger problems were – if you can actually hear or see evidence of leaks, your first step doesn’t necessarily have to be the installation of a Digital Flowmeter.

Here are some ways you may be able to “step” in and out to realize opportunities for savings on your use of compressed air:

  • Power:  I’m not saying you need to run out & buy a new compressor, but if yours is
    Recent advances have made significant improvements in efficiency.

    aging, requires more frequent maintenance, doesn’t have any particular energy efficiency ratings, etc…you might need to run out & buy a new compressor.  Or at least consult with a reputable air compressor dealer about power consumption.  You might not need to replace the whole compressor system if it can be retrofitted with more efficient controls.

  • Pressure: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure.  In fact, sometimes it’s downright detrimental for the pressure to be too high.  Depending on the layout of your compressed air supply lines, your header pressure may be set a little higher than the load with the highest required pressure, and that’s OK.  If it’s significantly higher, intermediate storage (like EXAIR’s Model 9500-60 Receiver Tank, shown on the right) may be worth looking into.  Keep in mind, every 2psi increase in your header pressure means a 1% increase (approximately) in electric cost for your compressor operation.  Higher than needed pressures also increase wear and tear on pneumatic tools, and increase the chances of leaks developing.
  • Consumption:  Much like newer technologies in compressor design contribute to higher efficiency & lower electric power consumption, engineered compressed air products will use much less air than other methods.  A 1/4″ copper tube is more than capable of blowing chips & debris away from a machine tool chuck, but it’s going to use as much as 33 SCFM.  A Model 1100 Super Air Nozzle (shown on the right) can do the same job and use only 14 SCFM.  This one was installed directly on to the end of the copper tube, quickly and easily, with a compression fitting.
  • Leaks: These are part of your consumption, whether you like it or not.  And you shouldn’t like it, because they’re not doing anything for you, AND they’re costing you money.  Fix all the leaks you can…and you can fix them all.  Our Model 9061 Ultrasonic Leak Detector (right) can be critical to your efforts in finding these leaks, wherever they may be.
  • Pressure, part 2: Not every use of your compressed air requires full header pressure (seems I’ve heard that before?)  Controlling the pressure required for individual applications, at the point of use, keeps your header pressure where it needs to be.  All EXAIR Intelligent Compressed Air Product Kits come with a Pressure Regulator (like the one shown on the right) for this exact purpose.
  • All of our engineered Compressed Air Product Kits include a Filter Separator, like this one, for point-of-use removal of solid debris & moisture.

    Air Quality: Dirty air isn’t good for anything.  It’ll clog (and eventually foul) the inner workings of pneumatic valves, motors, and cylinders.  It’s particularly detrimental to the operation of engineered compressed air products…it can obstruct the flow of Air Knives & Air Nozzles, hamper the cooling capacity of Vortex Tubes & Spot Cooling Products, and limit the vacuum (& vacuum flow) capacity of Vacuum Generators, Line Vacs, and Air Amplifiers.

Everyone here at EXAIR Corporation wants you to get the most out of your compressed air use.  If you’d like to find out more, give me a call.

Russ Bowman
Application Engineer
EXAIR Corporation
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EXAIR Air Nozzles – Here’s Their Simple ROI

Return on Investment, or ROI, is the ratio of profit over total investment.  Many people use it to check stocks, financial markets, capital equipment, etc.  It is a quantitative way in determining the validity for an investment or project.   You can use the ROI value to give a measurable rate in looking at your investment.

For a positive ROI value, the project will pay for itself in less than one year.  Any negative values would represent a high-risk investment.  In this blog, I will compare the ROI when replacing a ¼” NPT open pipe with a model 1122 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle.  Let’s start by looking at Equation 1 to calculate the Return on Investment:

Equation 1:  ROI = (Total annual savings – Total Project Cost) / Total Project Cost * 100

The second part of the equation, Total Project Cost, is the cost of the nozzles plus the labor to install them onto the machine.  The model 1122, 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle, has a price of $70.00 each.  The cost of a ¼” NPT Pipe that is roughly 2” long is around $1.50 each.  What a difference!  How could EXAIR been in business for over 35 years?  Let’s continue on with the Return on Investment…

The amount of time required to install the nozzles to the end of a pipe is 1/2 hour (generously).  The labor rate that I will use in this example is $75.00 per hour (you can change this to your current labor rate).  The labor cost to install a nozzle is $35.00.   The Total Project Cost can be calculated as follows: ($70 – $1.50) + $35.00 = $103.50.  The next part of the equation, Total annual savings, has more complexity in the calculation, as shown below.

As a reference, EXAIR Super Air Nozzles for compressed air would be considered like LED light bulbs for electricity.  The open pipes and tubes would represent the incandescent light bulbs.  The reason for this parity is because of the amount of energy that the EXAIR Super Air Nozzles can save.  While LED light bulbs are a bit more expensive than the incandescent light bulbs, the Return on Investment has a high percentage, or in other words, a short payback period.  On the other hand, the open pipe is less expensive to purchase, but the overall cost to use in your compressed air system is much much higher.  I will explain why.

To calculate the Total Annual Savings, we need to generate a blow-off scenario (You can use your actual values to calculate the ROI for your project).  In this example, I will compare the ¼” NPT open pipe to the 2” Flat Super Air Nozzle.  (The reason behind this comparison is that the model 1122 can screw directly onto the end of the 1/4” NPT pipe.)   The amount of compressed air used by a 1/4” NPT open pipe is around 140 SCFM (3,962 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  The model 1122 has an air consumption of 21.8 SCFM (622 SLPM) at 80 PSIG (5.5 Bar).  At an electrical rate of $0.08 per Kilowatt-hour, we see that the cost to make compressed air is $0.25 per 1000 standard cubic feet, or $0.25/1000SCF.  (Based on 4 SCFM per horsepower of air compressor).

To calculate an annual savings, let’s use a blow-off operation of 8 hours/day for 250 days a year.   Replacing the ¼” NPT open pipe with a model 1122, it will save you (140 SCFM – 21.8 SCFM) = 118.2 SCFM of compressed air.  To put this into a monetary value, the annual savings will be 118.2 SCFM *$0.25/1000SCF * 60 Min/hr * 8hr/day * 250 day/yr = $3,546/year.  Now if you have more than one blow-off spot in your facility like this, imagine the total amount of money that you would save.

With the Total Annual Cost and the Project Cost known, we can insert these values into Equation 1 to calculate the ROI:

ROI = (Total annual savings – Total Project Cost) / Project Cost * 100

ROI = ($3,546 – $103.50) / $103.50 * 100

ROI = 3326%

With a percentage value that high, we are looking at a payback period of only 9 days.  You may look at the initial cost and be discouraged.  But in a little over a week, the model 1122 will have paid for itself.  And after using it for just 1 year, it will save your company $3,546.00.  Like with any great idea, the LED light bulb clicked on in my mind.  What could be the total savings if you looked at all the blow-off applications in your facility?

EXAIR Nozzles

In my experience, a loud blowing noise from your equipment is generally coming from an open pipe or tube.  With these “cheap” ways to blow compressed air, it will cost your company a lot of money to use as shown in the example above.  If you would like to team up with EXAIR to set up ways to increase savings, improve productivity, and increase safety, you can contact an Application Engineer to get started.  It can be as simple as screwing on a Super Air Nozzle.

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

Compressed Air System Maintenance

When I was seventeen my grandfather took me to a used are dealership and helped me buy my first car. It wasn’t anything special, as it was a 1996  Chevrolet Lumina. It had its fair share of bumps and bruises, but the bones were solid. We took it home and he taught me how to do all the basics, we changed the oil, oil filter, air filter, brakes, pretty much every fluid we could, we changed.

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You see my grandfather retired from Ford Motor Company after 50+ years of service. And he always said, “If you treat it right, it will treat you right.”; and I’ve lived by that ever since.

Just like a car, air compressors require regular maintenance to run at peak performance and minimize unscheduled downtime. Inadequate maintenance can have a significant impact on energy consumption via lower compression efficiency, air leakage, or pressure variability. It can also lead to high operating temperatures, poor moisture control, and excessive contamination.

Most problems are minor and can be corrected by simple adjustments, cleaning, part replacement, or the elimination of adverse conditions. This maintenance is very similar to the car maintenance mentioned above, replace filters, fluids, checking cooling systems, check belts and identify any leaks and address.

All equipment in the compressed air system should be maintained in accordance with the manufacturers specifications. Manufacturers provide inspection, maintenance, and service schedules that should be followed strictly. In many cases, it makes sense from efficiency and economic stand-points to maintain equipment more frequently than the intervals recommended by the manufactures, which are primarily designed to protect equipment.

One way to tell if your system is being maintained well and is operating properly is to periodically baseline the system by tracking power, pressure, flow (EXAIR Digital Flowmeter), and temperature. If power use at a given pressure and flow rate goes up, the systems efficiency is degrading.

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Air Compressor

Types Of Maintenance

Maintaining a compressed air system requires caring for the equipment, paying attention to changes and trends, and responding promptly to maintain operating reliability and efficiency. Types of maintenance include;

  1. Poor Maintenance – Sadly, some plants still operate on the philosophy, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” Due to the lack of routine preventative maintenance, this practice may result in complete replacement of an expensive air compressor as well as unscheduled and costly production interruptions.
  2. Preventive  Maintenance – This type of maintenance can be done by plant personnel or by an outside service provider. Usually, it includes regularly scheduled monitoring of operating conditions. Replacement of air and lubricant filters, lubricant sampling and replacement, minor repairs and adjustments, and an overview of compressor and accessory equipment operation.
  3. Predictive  Maintenance – Predictive maintenance involves monitoring compressor conditions and trends , including operating parameters such as power use, pressure drops, operating temperatures, and vibration levels. The Right combination of preventive and predictive maintenance generally will minimize repair and maintenance costs.
  4. Proactive Maintenance – If a defect is detected, proactive maintenance involves looking for the cause and determining how to prevent a recurrence.

Unfortunately, even the best maintenance procedures cannot eliminate the possibility of an unexpected breakdown. Provisions should be made for standby equipment to allow maintenance with out interrupting production.

If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
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Images Courtesy of Tampere Hacklab

Flat Super Air Nozzles

 

EXAIR’s Flat Super Air Nozzles provide a 1” or 2” wide airstream with hard-hitting force. All of EXAIR’s Flat Super Nozzles adhere to OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.242(b) for dead-end pressure, providing a safe and efficient method of delivering a strong blast of air.

The flow and force from the Flat Super Air Nozzle is adjustable by regulating the pressure supplied to it as well as by installing different thicknesses of shims. Thicker shims provide more force and flow, while a thinner shim will reduce the force and flow as well as the overall air consumption. This makes the Flat Super Air Nozzle and ideal solution for applications that may require variable force for different applications.

The nozzles are also available in your very own Blowoff System that can be customized to fit the exact application. You have the ability to put together the best combination of nozzle, Stay Set Hose, and Magnetic Base to suit your needs. Available with either a single or dual Magnetic Base and any of our Stay Set Hoses, there’s many different possibilities. To begin:

  1. Select the Air Nozzle you’ll need.

EXAMPLE: HP1125SS 2” High Power Stainless Steel Super Air Nozzle

  1. Then select the length of Stay Set Hose. They’re available in lengths ranging from 6”-36”.

EXAMPLE: An HP1125SS with a 24” Stay Set Hose would be an HP1125SS-9224.

  1. Finally, you have the option to also select a Magnetic Base if necessary. These are available with either a one outlet Magnetic Base, or Two Outlet which would include (2) separate nozzles. For a single outlet, change the second digit of the “added on” dash number to a “3”. For a two outlet, change that number to a “4”.

 EXAMPLE: An HP1125SS with 24” Stay Set Hose and Dual Magnetic Base is a Model HP1125SS-9424.

bok_1122-9412_400

This allows you to customize the solution using ANY nozzle and ANY length Stay Set Hose, creating a custom solution for your application. If you’d like to talk about any of our Super Air Nozzles and which would be best for your application, feel free to give us a call.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

 

About Air Compressors: Air Intake Best Practices

Take a second and think about where the air compressor is located within your facility.  It is more than likely not a major focal point displayed prominently in the floor layout. There is a better chance it is tucked away in a corner of the facility where operators seldom travel.  No matter the type of air compressor, it still has an intake where it pulls in the ambient air from around the compressor then sends it through some process and on the demand side of your compressed air system.  These intakes can easily be placed out of sight and out of mind especially in older facilities that were designed when compressors were loud and the piping layout kept them away from operators due to sound level restrictions.

Air Compressor
Antique Air Compressor (Not safe for use!)

That’s why your compressor manufacturer supplies a specific grade of air inlet/intake filter, and this is your first line of defense. If it’s dirty, your compressor is running harder, and costs you more to operate it.  If it’s damaged, you’re not only letting dirt into your system; you’re letting it foul & damage your compressor. It’s just like changing the air filter on your car, your car needs clean air to run correctly, so does your compressor and the entire demand side of your compressed air system.

According to the Compressed Air Challenge, as a compressor inlet filter becomes dirty, the pressure drop across the inlet increases, this is very similar to the point of use compressed air filters.  The inlet filter on the compressor is the only path the compressor has to pull in the air, when restricted the compressor can begin to starve for air very similar to if you only had a small straw to breath through and told to run a marathon.  A clogged inlet filter can give false symptoms to compressor technicians as well.

The effects can mimic inlet valve modulation which result in increased compression ratios. If we were to form an example based on a compressor with a positive displacement, if the filter pressure drop increases by 20″ H2O, a 5% reduction of the mass flow of air will be present without a reduction in the power being drawn by the compressor. This all leads to inefficiency which easily amounts to more than the cost to replace the depleted inlet air filter.

compressor
Compressed Air System

Where you place the filter is just as important as how often you replace it.  There are some tips to be used when mounting the inlet filter.

  1. The filter can be placed on the compressor, but the inlet pipe should be coming from an external area to the compressor room or even the building if possible. The inlet should be free from any contaminants as well.  Some examples that are easy to overlook are nearby condensate discharges, other system exhausts and precipitation.
  2. Depending on the type of compressor being used, a lower intake air temperature can increase the mass flow of air due to the air density.  A compressor that is lubricant injected is not susceptible to this due to the air mixing with the warmer lubricant before being compressed.

If you would like to discuss improving your compressed air efficiency or any of EXAIR’s engineered solutions, I would enjoy hearing from you…give me a call.

Jordan Shouse
Application Engineer
Send me an email
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Twitter: @EXAIR_JS

 

Images Courtesy of  the Compressed Air Challenge and thomasjackson1345 Creative Commons.

Compressor Controls – Maximize Supply Side Efficiency

Air Compressor
Air Compressor and Storage Tanks

One of the most important aspect of an efficient compressed air delivery system is effective utilization of compressor controls. The proper use of compressor controls is critical to any efficient compressor system operation. In order to reduce operating costs, compressor controls strategies need to be developed starting with minimizing the discharge pressure. This should be set as low as possible to keep energy costs to a minimum.

The compressor system is designed with maximum air demand in mind. During periods of lower demand compressor controls are used to coordinate a reduction in output that matches the demand. There are six primary types of individual compressor controls:

  1. Start/Stop – This is the most basic control. The start/stop function will turn off the motor in response to a pressure signal.
  2. Load/Unload – The motor will run continuously, but the compressor unloads when a set pressure is reached. The compressor will then reload at a specified minimum pressure setting.
  3. Modulating – Restricts the air coming into the compressor to reduce compressor output to a specified minimum. This is also known as throttling or capacity control.
  4. Dual/Auto Dual – On small reciprocating compressors, this control allows the selection of either Start/Stop or Load/Unload.
  5. Variable Displacement – Gradually reduces the compressor displacement without reducing inlet pressure.
  6. Variable Speed – Controls the compressor capacity by adjusting the speed of the electric motor.

Most compressor systems are comprised of multiple compressors delivering air to a common header. In these types of installations, more sophisticated controls are required to orchestrate the compressor operation. Network controls link together each compressor in the system to form a chain. Usually, one compressor will assume the lead role with the others taking commands from the primary compressor. Some disadvantages of network controls include: only having the ability to control the compressors, cannot be networked with remote compressor rooms without a master control, and they generally only work well with compressors of the same brand due to microprocessor compatibility issues.

In more complicated systems, master controls can be used to coordinate all of the necessary functions to optimize the compressor system. Master controls have the ability to monitor and control all of the components within the system. The high-end master control systems utilize single point control logic with rate of change dynamic analysis in order to determine how the system will respond to changes. Changes on the demand side, supply side, or the ambient environment will all impact a compressor’s performance. An effective master control will be able to identify these changes and provide the most energy efficient response.

At the point of use, it’s always important to ensure you’re using a product that was engineered to reduce compressed air consumption. EXAIR’s line of Intelligent Compressed Air Products are available from stock to help you manage your overall operating costs.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@EXAIR.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

Images courtesy of thomasjackson1345 via Creative Commons License.

About Rotary Scroll Compressors

The Rotary Scroll compressor is a popular style compressor and is used primarily for air conditioning refrigerant systems.  Recently, since it is very efficient, quiet and reliable it has been adopted by industrial air compressor manufacturer’s to expand their product offering for their smaller, high-efficiency product line.

They operate on the principle of two intermeshing spirals or scrolls with one being stationary while the other rotates or orbits in relation to it.  They are mounted with 180° phase displacement between them which forms air pockets having different volumes.  Air enters through the inlet port located in the rotating/orbiting scroll which fills the chambers and as is moved along and compressed along the scroll surfaces.

scroll compressor finalSome of the key advantages of a Rotary Scroll Compressor are:

  • Pulsation free delivery due to the continuous flow from the suction port to the outlet port.
  • No metal to metal contact thereby eliminating the need for lubrication
  • Low noise levels
  • Fewer moving parts means less maintenance
  • Energy Efficient
  • Air cooled

The largest disadvantage is they are available in a limited range of sizes and the largest SCFM outputs are around 100 SCFM.

This is exactly where EXAIR shines, we offer 15 product lines of highly efficient & quiet point of use compressed air products and accessories to compliment their limited output volume of air.  All EXAIR products are designed to use compressed air efficiently and quietly, many of which reduce the demand on your air compressor which will help control utility costs and possibly delay the need to add additional compressed air capacity.

As an example, EXAIR’s Super Air Knives deliver exceptional efficiency by entraining ambient air at ratios of up to 40:1 and they are able to deliver an even laminar flow of air ranging from a gentle breeze to exceptionally hard-hitting force.

Super Air Knife
EXAIR’s Super Air Knife entrains ambient air at a 40:1 ratio!

EXAIR’s Super Air Amplifiers are able to entrain ambient air at ratio’s up to 25:1.  The model 120024 – 4″ Super Air Amplifier developes output volumes up to 2,190 SCFM while consuming only 29.2 SCFM of compressed air @ 80 PSI which can easily be operated on a 100 SCFM output compressor.

Super Air Amplifier
EXAIR Air Amplifiers use a small amount of compressed air to create a tremendous amount of air flow.

For your blow off needs EXAIR’s Super Air Nozzle lineup has an offering that will fit nearly any need or application you may have.  Nozzles are available in sizes from M4 x 0.5 to  1 1/4 NPT and forces that range from 2 ounces of force up to 23 Lbs at 12″ from the discharge.  We offer sixty two nozzles that could all be operated easily from the limited discharge or a rotary scroll compressor.

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Family of Nozzles

If you need to reduce your compressed air consumption or you are looking for expert advice on safe, quiet and efficient point of use compressed air products give us a call.  We would enjoy hearing from you!

Steve Harrison
Application Engineer
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