Improving Compressed Air System Performance The Easy Way

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At manufacturing facilities across the country, compressed air system total cost of ownership is exceedingly high. It’s been our experience that many facilities don’t have a good handle on just how poorly their systems are performing. And improving compressed air system performance is difficult when you haven’t quantified the problem. However, the Department of Energy estimates that up to 55% of compressed air is simply wasted.

 

How can this be? Primarily, there are three contributing factors.

Time. Money. And a huge misconception.

Due to time and budgetary constraints, operations personnel are focused on just trying to keep the compressed air system up and running. Peak efficiency just seems like a pipe dream. You do your best to take care of the biggest problems with the quickest fixes at your disposal and you move on to your next issue. The problem with that is that quick fixes rarely fix the problem and the waste just continues… or gets worse.

The other part of this equation is a common misconception that compressed air is all about PSI. If your system’s not delivering on the production floor, you crank up the PSI. Right? Wrong. Your equipment really relies on the CFM delivered to get the actual work done, not the PSI produced. If you have issues with your system such as leaks, ratcheting up the PSI is only going to put more pressure on an already flawed system. That can lead to even more system damage and greater waste.

It doesn’t help matters that air compressor manufacturer reps perpetuate the PSI myth, because they are always looking to get you to add or replace compressors with bigger and more expensive units. So, they tell you the answer is to beef up your PSI on the supply side. When in reality, if you focused on the efficiency of the demand side of your system and worked backwards, you could operate your production equipment with fewer CFMs than you’re currently using. As a result, PSI “requirements” fall by the wayside and you extend the life and value of your existing compressors.

 

How to best address compressed air system efficiency.

We’ve already established that most operations personnel don’t have a lot of time on their hands to chase down compressed air systems issues. To compound the problem, your compressed air system is a lot like an onion. Lots of layers that need to be peeled away, examined and addressed one by one.

The trick is how best to peel that onion in such a way to offer the greatest return on every investment as you go, while minimizing the time and capital involved.

In our next article, we’ll break that process down for you into 15 distinct steps. Topping the list are the quickest, easiest and least expensive steps geared around leak detection and repair . Best of all, they can represent up to 42% of your overall compressed air savings opportunity according to Focus On Energy data.

 

Just how much do you stand to save?

In the third installment of our series, we’ll walk you through a Department Of Energy example of how one manufacturer saved more than $50,000 per year just by finding and fixing compressed air system leaks.

The beauty of this systematic, highly sequential approach is that you realize substantial savings right away. That savings can then be applied to progressively more involved system refinements. So, you fund future compressed air system management projects with the savings realized from the previous project or projects.

Using this process, customers that thought they were facing a compressor replacement situation or might need an additional compressor wound up improving system efficiency to the point that they were able to convert existing “producers” into back-up units instead.

We’ve also had clients that thought their compressors were on their last legs. By incorporating these techniques, those units are still going strong five years later.

To find out more about how we can help you efficiently and cost effectively optimize your compressed air system performance, visit our web site and be sure to learn about our Find & Fix Compressed Air Leak Program.