Our site audits analyze how the compressed air system is working by measuring power inputs, and also factors like pressure and flow, using these to calculate key performance indicators. From this we can predict what energy savings are possible through system optimization. This information can often be used to gain a utility incentive, where applicable. Compressed air system operators are often surprised to see how inefficiently their air compressors are running. Typically if you are not measuring your compressed air system, you are not able to properly manage it. Compressed air assessments help you become away of your system issues so you can take action. The results not only save energy but can increase air quality, reliability, and productivity.
Often a big factor in improving compressed air systems efficiency is the reduction of waste and inappropriate use of compressed air. Our in-plant assessments will look for these problems and assess how much they are costing. The average plant wastes between 20 and 30 percent of their compressed air through leakage. In addition to this, 10 to 15 percent of the remaining compressed air that makes it to the end use is used inappropriately in ways that can be better supplied by another more efficient energy source, such as direct drive electrical. If your compressors are properly controlled, the reduction of the end use of compressed air can save significant amounts of energy, reducing your overall operating costs.
A rule of thumb for compressed air states that for every two psi in pressure reduction at the discharge of the compressors, the compressor power input will reduce by one percent. In addition to this, every one psi reduction in pressure at unregulated end uses will reduce the compressed air flow by about one percent, further reducing the compressor power. Thus, the reduction in plant pressure helps reduce the energy consumption of a compressed air system.
Our assessments measure plant pressure at various points along the system piping and look for opportunities to reduce pressure drops caused by system components, piping, and poor installation practices. Once these problem points are addressed, the compressor discharge pressure can often be reduced for a savings in energy. Sometimes upgrading system piping can help make production machines run better, improving product quality and throughput.
Too often the plant pressure is set by default by a compressed air service provider, a compressed air assessment can help you take back control of this expensive utility.
You can't manage what you don't measure! The measurement of a compressed air system is an important first step in bringing down the system operating costs. Without measurement your system problems are often hidden, these are brought to light by measuring compressor power, flow, pressure and dew point to ensure the compressors are properly responding to the changes in compressed air demand. The measurements are used to develop some Energy Performance Indicators (EnPI's) that tell us how efficiently the compressors and drying system are operating compared to best practices levels. The readings can also identify levels of leakage, flag compressor control problems and diagnose transient pressure drops.
If there is no regular system of leakage detection and repair in a facility there will often be high levels of waste through system leakage, typically accounting for 20 to 30 percent of the compressor output, but sometimes as high as 80 percent. Our in plant assessments will find and identify the location of significant leakage.
The assessment will use ultrasonic leakage detection that can find leakage even in noisy industrial environments. During the leak detection we will identify and classify the leakage, taking a photograph and optionally tagging the location for future repair. One additional benefit of leakage surveys is the identification of unexpected inappropriate uses, which show up loud and clear during leakage surveys.
A very common problem in compressed air systems is poor compressor control leading to excessive energy use. Our assessments measure and analyze how system compressors and air dryers are working to supply system demand. If there are problems then solutions are recommended for improvement, often correcting pressure problems and saving significant energy.
The surveys will identify some solutions to the problems and calculate the estimated savings that are possible with the proper corrections applied. Often very low cost solutions can implemented, sometimes just by the flick of a switch or a push of a few buttons, many times saving more than the cost of the audit in less than one year. And if you are considering upgrading your system to VSD control we can help you size your new compressor to ensure it can properly integrate into your system without control gap issues.
Artificial Demand Surveys
Its not uncommon to see compressed air systems operating at the maximum compressor pressure rating. When challenged about this plant operators often cannot explain why the pressure is so high. This higher pressure causes higher flow in all plant devices that use unregulated compressed air pressure. These devices will consume about one percent more compressed air for every one psi in higher pressure.
Our assessments look for artificial demands in plants that might be caused by higher than desired compressor discharge pressure or faulty, incorrectly adjusted, or missing machine regulators. Other common causes of artificial demand is keeping the pressure higher to compensate for transient high flow events caused by special equipment. The assessment looks for these and recommends solutions to correct the problem.
Compressed air awareness training for your compressed air system operators and users is vital to enable the reduction of compressed air energy use in a plant. The training starts by making people aware of the high costs associated with compressed air and what to do about it. Awareness training has been proven to be an excellent catalyst for change in an organization, most often leading to leakage and end use management projects and sometimes projects that upgrade compressed air production equipment.
Ron Marshall, the company owner is a certified Level 2 instructor with the Compressed Air Challenge, a highly rated two part compressed air training program recognized by the US Department of Energy and utilities across North America. Any organization can host a compressed air training as long as there are about eight willing participants and suitable training space.
One of the typical missing elements in compressed air system monitoring systems is flow metering. Our assessments can use thermal mass flow metering to track the output of the compressed air production system and match it up with the compressor status and system pressures. Using this information key energy performance indicators can be calculated to determine if your system is efficiently producing compressed air. Very often there is a mismatch between calculated flow, based on the status of the compressors, and measured flow.
Flow measurement can also be done to assess how closely air compressors match their rated output. System leakage can be assessed using flow metering. Flow metering is vital to helping size new system components like air compressors, dryers, filters and piping.
Dew Point Measurement
Compressed air system often have water contamination that can cause problems with downstream equipment, or even contaminate finished product. Most commonly these moisture problems are caused by a heat problem in the compressed air room due to poor ventilation. But sometimes the dryers fail, dryer controls go out of calibration, or are inadvertently turned off by well meaning operators.
Dew point measurement of compressed air systems can detect when problems occur and based on data taken by other data loggers can diagnose what is causing the issues. Our instrumentation can measure dew point on both refrigerated and desiccant dryer systems down to minus 50 C.
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