Cut Compressed Air Costs Correctly and You Just Might Find a Free Back-Up Unit.

Wasmer-Company-Compressed-Air-Blog-ImageIn earlier articles, we looked at why compressed air system issues are so costly and we provided you with a practical, 15-point checklist of best practices for managing compressed air systems effectively. But the big question most manufacturers want to know is how can we cut compressed air costs?


To illustrate how important fixing system leaks alone can be, here is a Department of Energy example based on a chemical plant that had completed a compressed air sytem audit.


Leaks, approximately equivalent to different orifice sizes, were found as follows: 100 leaks of 1/32” at 90 pounds per square inch gauge (psig), 50 leaks of 1/16” at 90 psig, and 10 leaks of ¼” at 100 psig. To calculate the annual cost savings, they assumed 7,000 annual operating hours, an aggregate electric rate of $0.05/kilowatt-hour (kWh) at the time, and a compressed air generation requirement of approximately 18 kilowatts (kW)/100 cfm.*


Cost savings (from cut compressed air costs) = # of leaks x leakage rate (cfm) x kW/cfm x # of hours x $/kWh


Using the audit leakage findings and a leakage rate table, the savings were calculated as follows:

Cost savings from 1/32” leaks = 100 x 1.46 x 0.61 x 0.18 x 7,000 x 0.05 = $5,611

Cost savings from 1/16” leaks = 50 x 5.72 x 0.61 x 0.18 x 7,000 x 0.05 = $10,991

Cost savings from 1/4” leaks = 10 x 100.9 x 0.61 x 0.18 x 7,000 x 0.05 = $38,776

Total cost savings from eliminating leaks = $55,378


Keep in mind these calculations were based an electric rate of $0.05/kWh. When adjusted to today’s more typical rate of $0.10/kWh the total savings from eliminating leaks alone comes in at $110,756/year.


There’s more to compressed air management than energy savings.


Reducing energy waste is a significant savings. Yet, the advantages of an effective and ongoing compressed air management program extend far beyond simple energy savings.


Due to system inefficiencies many companies wind up adding a new compressor to meet gaps in demand. But those gaps tend to be very minimal. That’s an expensive way to go to make allowances for poor air compressor management. If they put a little time and effort into focusing on system efficiency, companies usually can eliminate those gaps in demand. As a result, that additional compressor suddenly goes from an underutilized sunk cost to a “free” on-site back-up system, ready to be put into service the instant any of the other compressors develop fatal issues or additional production lines are put into service.


An ongoing compressed air management strategy also helps extend the life of system components, which can help you add years to the service life of your compressors and reduce your total cost of ownership on these big-ticket capital expenditures.


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.