Saving Water in a Paper Mill
A paper mill in Wisconsin reduced its’ yearly water consumption by 547.5 million gallons and reduced its’ yearly air compressor maintenance costs by $470,000. This is the cases study told when Compressed Air Best Practices® interviewed Jim Kinate, Martha Kinate, and Jodie Blumreich of Compressor & Pump Repair Services (CPR) Inc.
CABP: How did you help a paper mill reduce water consumption?
Like many of its kind in Wisconsin, this paper mill is located on a river and employs over 4,000 people. The mill has been on the EPA’s Department of Natural Resources watch-list for water consumption for many years. The operations people are always looking for ways to reduce water consumption and increase efficiency. We were asked to visit the facility and propose ways to address three issues:
- Water-cooled air compressors were consuming 547.5 million gallons of water per year
- Yearly maintenance and rebuild costs for the air compressors was $550,000
- Moisture was present in the compressed air lines during cold winter days
- Improve the efficiency of the system
Kaeser Air-Cooled Rotary Screw Compressor at the Paper Mill
CABP: What did your analysis of their system find?
The mill was using eighteen water-cooled piston air compressors. They averaged forty years of age and sizes ranging from 150 to 200 horsepower. These old workhorses required yearly rebuilds and scheduled maintenance with costs totaling $550,000. They also generated a tremendous amount of heat. When the heat being generated was combined with a hot summer day, ambient conditions in the compressor room could reach 120 F. The water requirement to keep these compressors cooled was 1.5 million gallons per day. The operations management was under the impression that they had to use water-cooled air compressors due to the high ambient temperature conditions.
The mill was drying the air with refrigerated air dryers. The dryers had been sized for 100 F ambient conditions and were completely overloaded. The result was elevated dew points and moisture presence in the downstream air lines. This caused problems, in particular, with instrumentation located around the mill.
The other important factor the analysis discovered was that their plant air pressure requirement was 75-80 psig. They were, however, delivering compressed air at 100 psig.
CABP: Aren’t water-cooled compressors the only option for 120 F ambient conditions?
Many pulp and paper mills have the misperception that they have to use water-cooled machines due to their high ambient conditions. This is false and an area of opportunity for them. We reviewed the following recommendations with them.
PAPER MILL BEST PRACTICE ACTIONS
- Replace the water-cooled piston compressors with air-cooled rotary screw compressors specifically designed for high ambient conditions
- Install ducting to bring fresh ambient air into the air compressors and to duct heat upwards and out of the compressor room
- Install blower purge desiccant dryers and stainless steel pipe which assures the facility with -40 F dew points and dry air throughout the facility
- Install two 15,000 gallon horizontal receiver tanks. The first tank is a “wet tank” at the compressor outlet. We separate a tremendous amount of moisture in this tank and improve the efficiency of the desiccant dryers. The second tank is installed at the dryer outlet and maintains 98 psig pressure.
- Install a flow controller which supplies 82 psig pressure to the plant
- Quarterly-interval maintenance contract with 24/7 on-call capabilities to manage high paper-dust ambient conditions
BEST PRACTICE RESULTS
- Water savings of 1.5 million gallons per day and 547.5 million gallons per year
- Maintenance cost reduction of $470,000 per year
- Clean, dry air throughout the mill and no instrumentation problems
CABP: How have the results turned out?
Very well. The facility is so pleased with the results that we have used them as a reference for other paper & pulp mills. This process has since been replicated with Kaeser compressors at two other facilities.
Air-cooled Compressors Provided Water Savings of 1.5 million gallons per day
CABP: When was CPR started?
Compressor & Pump Repair Services was established in DePere, Wisconsin in 1984 as a service company for industrial pumps and air compressors. In 1986 we expanded into mechanical contracting and specialized in industrial air piping and municipal sewage treatment. The sales division sold mostly pumps to the industrial and municipal markets. In 1988, the sales department expanded to include industrial air compressors.
KAESER compressors was chosen as our main compressor line and we have since placed over 2000 units in our territory. We are the sole distributor for KAESER in Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Michigan's Upper Penninsula.
Jim Kinate, Martha Kinate, and Jodie Blumreich of CPR Inc.
CABP: How does CPR cover so much geography?
We have regional sales people in the field and have a large group of dealers. Dealers cover specific markets. Our regional sales people support their efforts, particularly with larger installations. The strength of dealers is with the smaller installations in their area.
How does inside sales support outside sales?
Inside sales generates leads for outside sales people. This makes our outside people much more efficient with their time. Our inside sales and marketing people execute the following functions:
- Call potential customers to set up appointments. We now get referrals from over 2000 installed air compressors.
- Multiple direct mail efforts go out every year. Follow-up phone calls are made to generate sales appointments.
- Follow-up mailings to our customer base. We want to make sure they are satisfied customers and keep our pulse on new opportunities.
- E-mailers are sent to customers or prospective customers. We find an increasing percentage of people prefer an email to other forms of contact.
CABP: How does your sales force help your company be so efficient?
We have supported the sales force with technology from day one. Each outside person carries phones which take photos and can receive emails direct from our computer network. They also have laptops. They use the technology to increase their and our over-all efficiency.
- If a customer emails a sales person – he can see it on his phone and handle it right away. If he needs to forward it to inside sales or accounting – it’s done right away. Accounting can then respond to the customer right away. Faster response time for customers is the result.
- Sales and service people are required to generate service work. They use their cameras on their phones to photograph name plate data on air compressors. They then email the photo to technical service so that the appropriate parts can be identified and the customer can be sent a service proposal. The photos have eliminated countless back and forth phone calls with the customer needed to figure out what parts are needed. The result again has been increased efficiencies for our customers and our company.
- Installation photos are taken in advance by the sales people. When our installers arrive at a site, they arrive prepared to deal with every situation because they have seen photos of the installation beforehand. There are no delays or extra trips which again make the whole process more efficient for our customers and ourselves.
CABP: How does CPR use technology in assessing your customer’s compressed air needs?
Compressor Pump & Repair (CPR) specializes in evaluating systems. We represent Kaeser Compressor products in Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and upper Michigan. We utilize Kaeser’s excellent Air Demand Analysis process in many applications. An analysis will often involve:
- Trending the system by installing kW meters and flow meters
- Provide a customized report with a situation analysis and recommendation summary
- Supply a 3-D layout drawing of the recommendation
CABP: What other factors have been important to your growth?
Selling quality products is of utmost importance to our growth and success. We sell the highest quality equipment, like Kaeser Compressors. Our philosophy is to try to make every business transaction beneficial to our customers as well as our company. Quality product lines speak for themselves. When you combine quality products with a good sales & service organization, good things happen.
CABP: Thank you CPR for your insights.