Festo work man testing the products to see if they're not wasting energy or money with a monitor machine in a clean testing setting

FESTO Top Tips

Here are 6x things that you can do now to optimize your Compressed Air System and reduce energy costs!

1. When Not In Use, Turn Off the Compressed Air

Approximately 10% of all electricity used in industry is accounted for by compressed air systems.

There are 168 hours in a week, but most compressed air systems only run at or near full capacity between 60-100 hours. So depending on a plant’s shift work pattern, you should consider turning off your compressors in the evenings and on weekends. 

This could reduce your energy bills up to 20 percent!  

2. Find and Fix Existing Leaks in the System

Did you know up to 40% of your generated compressed air is being lost due to leaks? Air leakage is the single largest waste of compressed air. Air leaks tend to be largely ignored because you cannot “see it”. but if you have a liquid leak such as oil or water it is readily visible and often quickly addressed. Yet the cost of a compressed air leak can be much higher.

Approximately 80 percent of air leaks are not audible so one means to detect (and then repair) leaks is to regularly check for leaks using a quality Ultrasonic Leak Detector.  Many air leaks are from piping (especially at pipe joints), and from poorly installed or worn out fittings, from valve assemblies and even from stuck auto drains used on filters.

Leaks waste a lot of money. Even fixing a few major leaks helps the bottom line.

3. Reduce System Pressure if Possible. Run at required pressures – not more, for Each Application

Every 1 Bar reduction in compressed air pressure from the air compressor reduces energy consumption by 7%. When a system or machine has issues there is a tendency to increase the supply pressure to compensate this only really feeds the leaks. Pressure regulators with gauges should be installed at appropriate locations so that you can set the optimal pressure level needed for the particular application to ensure minimal compressed air use. If a machine has a single operation that requires a higher pressure to perform then you should look at solutions that can overcome this situation such as a localised pressure booster while maintaining the general machine at a lower overall pressure.

4. Eliminate inappropriate use of compressed air

About 70% of compressed air products (after leaks) is used for blowing off, cooling or the production of vacuum. Inappropriate applications include any application that can be done more effectively or more efficiently by other means than using compressed air such as the use of Air Blowers and Vacuum Pumps whose actual running costs can be significantly lower than the cost required to generate the compressed air used. That being said, however, compressed air is often used where for any number of reasons these other options cannot be used such as available of space, location or lack of local support for another technology. 

So rather than demonising the use of compressed air, we should look at equipment to maximise its efficiency for example it can be applied very efficiently for blow off, drying and cleaning by using energy efficient items like air nozzles, and other air “amplifiers” both annular type and linear or “air knife” versions that converts energy normally lost as pressure drop and noise into high velocity and high volume flow.   This type of technology can reduce compressed air costs at point of use anywhere from 10% to 90% while maintaining production rate output and quality.

5. Track air usage

You can’t put in place cost saving initiatives until you know what’s happening in your system. Investing in equipment to measure pressure, volume flow and leaks has the following cost-savings benefits.

 

  • Highlights savings potential
  • Reduce the escape of expensive compressed air
  • Assign costs to individual production processes
  • Prevent possible breakdowns by alerting you to any changes

6. Utilize the Heat of Compression. Compressing air generates heat – Use it!

Approximately 80% of the energy created during the compression process is given off as heat. This heat is usually given off into the atmosphere and wasted. For example, an 11Kw compressor has the potential to lose up to 9Kw in heat energy!

Use the heat by-product from compression to save costs elsewhere. Redirect this energy, for example into ducting to heat the building. Or you can retrofit a heat exchanger to an air compressor cooling system to pre-heat water.

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