Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Air Compressors

In general, this article focuses on the definitions of terms often used to understand centrifugal air compressor performance. Comments are also made on how to measure power consumption. This article is not intended to be an engineering discussion of the various types and designs of centrifugal and other air compressors.
Compressed Air Best Practices® interviewed Mr. Sid Van der Meer and Mr. Terry Nickel from Northwest Equipment Ltd in Airdrie, Canada.
There are many applications which require a low horsepower compressor built with the technology that has been proven in larger compressors. Often these situations are not addressed well by the general compressor industry.  
This factory currently spends $735,757 annually on the electricity required to operate the compressed air system at its plant. The group of projects recommended in the system assessment will reduce these energy costs by an estimated $364,211 (49% of current use). Estimated costs for completing the recommended projects total $435,800. This figure represents a simple payback period of 14.4 months.
Compressed air leaks - every system has them.  Is a leak identification and control program economically rewarding and/or necessary? Upper management sometimes doesn’t recognize the true cost of not repairing air leaks.  Knowing the high cost of compressed air, why wouldn’t every facility with a compressed air piping system implement a continuous leak identification and repair program?
This article presents a case study of Grimmway Farms; a carrot growing and packing firm located in California’s Central Valley that was able to improve its compressed air system efficiency after implementing system automation and making relatively small equipment and piping changes.
Easy-to-implement master control and monitoring systems provide crucial system information including the key performance indicators required to manage air compressors and their associated energy costs.
We are finding significant changes in industry with regards to which managers are involved with our discussions.
Productivity and profits are very directly linked to the compressed air system, as is waste elimination. High performance central compressed air management systems can respond quickly to even extreme system fluctuations, improving productivity and minimizing energy waste.  This is accomplished with modern software systems analyzing and processing appropriate data and triggering proactive actions - before the dynamics effect the compressed air production system.
In today’s world, where “green” is “gold”, the efficient operation of multiple air compressors has taken on a new sense of urgency. In an era where giant manufacturing campuses with huge compressed air systems are fast disappearing, the emphasis shifts now to improving the efficiency of the higher numbers of installed small and medium size air compressors.
Compressed Air Best Practices spoke with Peter Kyriacopoulos. Mr. Kyriacopoulos is the General Manager/VP USA Region East for Atlas Copco Compressors.