Your Compressed Air System – What’s Going On?

How efficient is your compressed air system? Walk into your compressor room and look around.  It’s noisy, hot and dirty.  Take a look at your compressors, feel the vibrations, the heat and try to gauge the system efficiency by feel.  Not working for you?
How about checking the compressor gauges, unfortunately, only normally pressure and temperature, and perhaps a maintenance warning message.  No luck there.Fact is that most compressed air systems have no convenient ways of determining how much air is being produced or how much energy is being consumed by your system. But measurement of your system is the key, to get started on the road to improvement you must accurately baseline your key system inputs and outputs to assess system efficiency and to gauge how well your system is meeting your plant’s needs.  The first step is to use some accurate instrumentation to develop a baseline; a starting point from which you will assess any future improvements.

Baselining a compressed air system can be really effective in discovering efficiency issues in the way the production equipment is producing the compressed air.  For example, if you knew your compressors were rated to produce air at a specific power of 20 kW per 100 cfm, but your system actually consumes 75 kW per cfm, wouldn’t that make you curious?  The specific power of a system is like the gas mileage reading of an automobile, if things go wrong under the hood, or the vehicle is being driven incorrectly, it will negatively affect the reading.

Baselining also provides information on how your compressed air is being used.  For example, what if you found out that 50% of the average compressed air produced flowed when there was no production on evenings, weekends and holidays?  If you knew this you may be able to make some improvements to your operating regime and save costs.

Baselining can also help you assess how effectively you are providing compressed air pressure to your end users.  It is often very surprising for system operators to find during system assessment that the 120 psi they fight so hard to maintain in the compressor room only results in 70 psi or less at the critical compressed air powered tool due to undersized piping, filters, regulators and fittings.

These are common areas of concern that can called to your attention by carefully measuring your system.  Time to start thinking about it now rather than going by gut feel!

Welcome

Are your wondering about compressed air auditing? This is the place to learn. Stay tuned as we explore the subject in the coming weeks and months.

Audits are important tools to help you understand how well your compressed air system is meeting your needs.  The reliability, stability, quality, and efficiency of your system needs to be regularly assessed to ensure your compressed air is produced, transmitted and used correctly.