This article dealt with all the various conditions that can and do affect the performance capacity of various types of air compressors in actual flow capacity (SCFM at site conditions).
During Dealer Week, they needed enough compressed air to power multiple machines at a time all day long. Keeping simultaneous demos running for all their top machines required airflow of up to 400 cubic feet per minute (CFM). However, outside of Dealer Week, their compressed air demands were quite modest. On a typical day, they only needed 20 CFM to power their dust collection system and pneumatic tools for their dock and warehouse crating areas.
This assessment identifies a path to reduce the energy consumption from \$85,000 to \$51,000 per year. This can be done with little capital by fixing poppet-valve control problems on the air compressors and reducing flow and pressure requirements. Due to article space limitations, this article does not provide detail on the flow reduction projects. It focuses only on the impact these projects have on the air compressors and provides readers with a template on the information they should have on their units, by shift.
Do the questions in the title seem like simple questions? There are many things that confuse the issue including air compressor condition, controls as applied, interconnecting pipe size and configuration and effective storage. All of these have been covered in many technical compressed air papers and articles. The topic many don’t use or understand is how to calculate the actual value of these initial questions at the operating sites and conditions.
When the design capabilities of an installed compressed air system didn’t align with real-world production needs at its ore processing mill in northern Michigan, Eagle Mine decided to move beyond theoretical compressed air concepts and deal in reality. After thorough analyses of its compressed air challenges and implementing a variety of solutions, the team at the mill bolstered the operation’s ability to efficiently mill approximately 2,200 metric tons of ore per day.
Analysis of the pressure data logging showed that, while the variable speed drive compressor maintained a constant discharge pressure near 120 psi, the pressure at various critical points fell to as low as 85 psi during peak production operations. General pressure in the plants, especially Plant 2, fluctuated between 102 and 112 psi, showing that the pressure/flow control valve was not regulating properly, and that Plant 2 lacked enough general storage volume to support transient flows.
The information contained in this article, will help the operator to assess his/her systems, and identify where these systems fall within a three-level category. There are many ways, and opportunities to make a compressed air system produce reliable and good quality air. The three levels discussed here could also be characterized as a “continuous improvement plan” which can be achieved over the course of time, and with the occasional investment of money.
Most industrial systems like compressed air have essentially random demand if you look at the long-term life cycle of the system. Hundreds, even thousands of independent small and large subsystems require constant or varying flow. These demands are typically not timed or synchronized with each other, so they aggregate to a fairly random flow profile, within a range. That range changes significantly when production processes change. Certainly a 2-week audit might show some patterns that appear predictable for demand A (“production”) and demand B (“non-production”) or day type, but they change over time as the plant adapts to new production systems and removes old ones. If demand was that profile forever, a lesser experienced auditor might be tempted to size one set of compressors that work perfectly for that profile but not for alternates.
There are some fundamentals when it comes to compressed air system improvements. One strategy that is overlooked is just drawing the details of whatever aspect of a system you are looking at. It is fairly common to see a misdiagnosis of some particular technical issue that would have been obvious should someone have created the drawing to describe the problem.
A food processor was having compressed air problems, so they invited a compressed air auditor into their plant for an assessment and to help them size future permanent air compressors. The plant was experiencing low air pressure and detecting water in the compressed air lines despite having a desiccant air dryer. The auditor thoroughly analyzed the compressed air system production equipment and did end-use assessment and leakage detection. This article discusses the findings leading to a potential cost savings of 52% of the current level.
This article reviews the benefits and design considerations of controlling system pressure from the air compressor room to the production headers and selected production processes and areas. Over the last several decades, the phrase “demand-side control” has become the generic term to describe establishing a “flat line” header pressure using proper storage and an appropriate pressure regulator, or “pressure flow controller.” Use of a demand-side controller to control pressure and flow can be implemented at the entry to the production area header(s) and at selected production areas or processes.