Industrial Utility Efficiency    

System Assessment

“Retro-Commissioning” (ReCX) of compressed air systems has become a trendy activity with many utility demand-side-management programs emerging in the last 5-10 years.  This is intended to be the process of “tuning up” a compressed air system, getting low cost savings from mostly adjustments and repairs.  The term was borrowed from the building/HVAC industry, where it means to get a system operating as it was originally “commissioned”. 

Compressor Controls

UniFirst is one of North America’s largest workwear and textile service companies. They outfit nearly two million workers in clean uniforms and protective clothing each workday. Founded in an eight-stall garage in 1936, the Company has grown to 240 customer servicing locations throughout the U.S. and Canada servicing 300,000 business customer locations. The subject of this article is an energy-saving Air Demand Analysis (ADA), conducted by Kaeser Compressors, at UniFirst’s centralized 320,000 square foot hub Distribution Center located in Owensboro, Kentucky.

Piping Storage

Technology is available which enables a compressed air flow meter to measure not only the magnitude of the flow, but also the direction. Why is this important? In this article we will describe two case studies where bi-directional compressed air flow measurement plays a key role to come to the right conclusions. In the first case study, we will describe an electronics manufacturing plant, which has a large interconnected ring network with two air compressor rooms located in different buildings. The two air compressor rooms are about five hundred feet apart. In the second case study, the effect of compressed air flow measurement upstream of a local receiver tank is described.

End Uses

At a Midwest window manufacturing plant, the cooling process for the plastic frame pieces, after leaving the extruder, was critical to process productivity and quality. Too much cooling air (or not enough cooling air) would generate scrap and rejected product. The plants’ 17 extruders and 55 separate blow-offs in these lines had similar cooling stations at the cooling boxes. They consisted of about three hoses at each exit frame angled down to the extruded piece moving past it. The compressed air flow was controlled by a manual control valve set by an operator. The operator used his experience to control the flow delivered and thereby control the product quality.


A Canadian chemical plant installed a large heated blower-purge style compressed air dryer, years ago, to condition the instrument air system against freezing temperatures.  The dryer selected was oversized for the connected air compressors and had unused on-board energy savings features.  A compressed air assessment revealed the site air compressors and compressed air dryers were running inefficiently and causing in-plant pressure problems.  Repairs to a compressed air dryer and the replacement of aging air compressors and dryers has reduced compressed air energy costs by 31 percent.

Air Treatment/N2

A pharmaceutical product manufacturer spends an estimated $137,443 annually on electricity to operate the oil-free air compressors in its compressed air system. The compressed air system operates well and is providing the level of purification required.  Our team visited the plant and identified a group of projects which could reduce compressed air demand and reduce energy costs by $42,248 – or 31% of current use.


Compressed air optimization measures adopted by PTMSB have reduced the consumption of compressed air by 31 percent resulting in savings of about 3,761,000 kWh per year in energy consumption. The monetary savings are MYR 1,090,627 per year ($255,000 USD). The CO2 reduction is estimated at 2,735 ton per year.


Energy, in all forms, has always been a key Lantech focus. It was, in fact, a key element of the core packaging problem the company’s founders set out to address. They saw an opportunity to capitalize on an inexpensive and under-used resource – stretch film – to displace a high materials cost and energy intensive way of unitizing pallet loads of products – shrink bagging.

Vacuum Blowers

Every municipality and utility is facing the reality of rising energy costs. In 2010, the Town of Billerica, MA, which is located 22 miles northwest of Boston with a population of just under 40,000 residents, engaged Process Energy Services and Woodard & Curran to conduct an energy evaluation of the Town’s Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) and pump station systems sponsored by National Grid. The objective of the evaluation was to provide an overview of each facility system to determine how electrical energy and natural gas were being used at the facility and to identify and develop potential costsaving projects.
Utilities have been cleaning their boilers for many years using either steam or high-pressure air.  In the past, when air was used, due to the size of the boilers and the reasonable quality of fuel used, a relatively small amount of cleaning was required.
Pneumatic system overhaul for furniture machining center yields high-precision results for a perfect, polished finish.
Boeing Canada has replaced their onsite membrane style Nitrogen generator with a new more modern system with increased capacity and higher efficiency.  As a result, the company is now using minimal amounts of expensive liquid Nitrogen, and has reduced the energy cost per unit of gas produced by 83%.
Relatively few people realize that for a variety of industrial manufacturing applications, from air knife drying to simple blow-off nozzles, the use of high pressure compressed air that bleeds into the atmosphere represents a significant waste of energy.  
Almost every industry in America today is experiencing higher costs – energy, raw materials, labor, health care, shipping – you name it.  Energy prices have been rising and many experts forecast that these increases will continue.  Energy costs sometimes are overlooked when developing productivity and cost reduction plans.
With all of the different LEED credits and associated M&V requirements and tax incentive opportunities for businesses to reduce energy consumption, we have seen an increasing demand for metering. Companies are looking for more ways to estimate cost savings and prove that their energy saving investments are working.
This steel processing facility has been operating for over one hundred years.  This facility is part of a large corporation with numerous plants around the world.  This audit focused on the compressed air system on one side of the Works which we will call the “North Plant”.
Motor Coach Industries, headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois, is the largest manufacturer of intercity tour coaches for the tour, charter, line-haul, scheduled service, commuter transit and conversion markets in the U.S. and Canada. The company operates a four screw-type air compressor system at its Clarence Avenue plant in Winnipeg. To maintain adequate system pressure at the plant, Motor Coach was forced to run all four compressors 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
New Flyer Industries is a Winnipeg based heavy duty bus manufacturer, supplying vehicles to the US and Canadian markets.  The company specializes in vehicles with†alternative-fuel drives such as electric trolleys, gasoline-electric and diesel-electric hybrid vehicles; as well as standard diesel buses.