Industrial Utility Efficiency    

Technology

Among the many “systems” plant personnel are concerned with, the compressed air system often provides the biggest opportunity for improvement and overall savings. There are many manufacturers and several air compressor technologies to choose from. Reciprocating or rotary? Fixed speed or variable speed? Oil flooded or oil free? Single-stage or two-stage technology? It’s enough to make anyone want to run and hide!

Air Compressors

Properly sizing a compressed air system can help determine if your facility has enough air to adequately supply your production equipment. Designing a cost effective system that minimizes any interruptions to productivity requires thoughtful planning and design. Typically, the desired outcomes of such a system focus on stable pressure and efficient operation, though it is important to note that each of these elements requires a unique solution. This article will provide guidance in proper selection considerations and suggest when a centrifugal air compressor may be ideal for your needs.

Air Treatment

Air compressors can produce a lot of water. Humidity in ambient air, once compressed, results in much of this water falling out, which we know as condensate. On a warm and humid summer day with inlet air temperatures of 80 oF, a 75-horsepower (hp) air compressor running fully loaded can produce over 25 gallons of condensate in just one eight-hour shift, with another five gallons being produced once the compressed air is sent through a dryer. The compression process allows for the air, water vapor, and lubricating fluids to mix. Once the condensate leaves the system, trace amounts of lubricant travel with it. This condensate should be processed through an oil-water separator before being discharged to groundwater or wastewater treatment plants.

Blowers

The plant upgrades, in combination with a progressive management strategy, allows the plant to consume less energy and reduce its reliance on outside contractors for biosolids removal, resulting in total operational savings of approximately $60,000 per year.  The plant is also positioned to efficiently manage the area’s wastewater for decades to come.

Compressor Controls

Companies will experience periods of increased production, as well as periods of slower or stopped production. It’s the nature of being in business. Understanding the implications of these business shifts for compressed-air installations (the powerhouse behind a facility’s production) is key for ensuring that air compressors remain functional and efficient. Here are guidelines to ensure your facility’s compressed-air system operates at top performance, no matter the speed of production.

Instrumentation

Like any system, to properly manage compressed air equipment some measurements have to be taken. Typically, some sort of data logging equipment is installed to measure various pressures, amps or power, flow, and sometimes temperatures and dewpoints. Placing this equipment on a system is like putting an electrocardiograph machine on a human heart, the heartbeat of the compressed air system in a plant can be analyzed to determine if everything is normal or if there is a problem, all without interrupting the system. 

Pneumatics

In this article, we discuss problems associated with static electricity in industrial manufacturing operations and how to effectively address them. At the atomic level, materials have a balance of positively charged protons in the nucleus and negatively charged electrons in the shell. Balance requires the same number of each.  A static charge occurs when that balance shifts due to the loss or gain of one or more electrons from the atom or molecule. The primary mechanism for this loss or gain, among several possibilities, is friction.

Vacuum

It’s one thing to move materials during the production process, but when it’s a finished product on the packaging line, choosing the right material handling system is essential. Getting it wrong results in squandered production time when product loss occurs, and wasted raw materials.

Cooling Systems

As a result of compressed air awareness training and a focus on energy management, two facilities in different parts of the world have reduced their compressed air demand substantially by removing vortex style cabinet coolers from some of their electrical panels and reworking the cooling systems.  These facilities were previously unaware of the high cost of compressed air and how much could be saved if other methods of cooling were used. This article describes some of their efforts in demand reduction.
Electricity and compressed air play an important role in the thermal and kinetic processes for everything from mixing and extruding the ingredients, deep-freezing to -13°F (-25°C), dipping into various chocolate coatings through to final packaging. Energy efficiency is therefore right at the top of Unilever’s list of priorities. As part of the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, this global corporation has succeeded in saving more than $186 million in energy costs from efficiency improvements in production alone since 2008.
To improve the delivery of compressed air at the plant, which is supplied by low-pressure and high-pressure compressed air systems, the manufacturer took an important first step by using airflow meters to monitor and measure the performance of both systems. Subsequent planning based on actionable data led to a unique compressed air system upgrade that increases the plant’s ability to maintain peak production of high quality glass bottles and containers at all times – while saving $150,000 per year in energy costs. The project also delivered a payback of less than two years.  
Advances in phone technology dramatically improve their function and our experience. More storage, faster speeds, enhanced communication options, bigger and brighter display….and so on. As a result, today’s phones are significantly more powerful – improving our productivity and changing our lives. As for the technology laggards, obsolescence eventually prompts change. Repairing or replacing parts and accessories on the old phones is an increasing challenge. Eventually they have to succumb to technology.
Varnish is a leading cause of airend failure in oil-flooded/injected rotary-screw air compressors. The purpose of this article is not to cover every scenario conducive to varnish formation, but to point out that many factors need to be considered when it occurs, and methods are available for its detection. Ultimately, it’s up to both the oil manufacturer and maintenance professional to ensure the oil used is up to the task of resisting varnish and maximizing air compressor performance and life.   
In an ever-evolving world of regulations, requirements, and legal ramifications, it can be all too easy to want to cover all the bases by adding a wide range of industry codes and standards to any project being put out for bid. Many assume that if the purchased equipment meets all the requirements of every developed code and standard then surely it will be a reliable and safe machine to operate with the best performance and energy efficiency. However, many of these codes and standards are developed with a tremendously broad range of machinery and equipment in mind and they may not always fit well with the specific project being developed. Compliance to these codes and standards may require very costly modifications to a manufacturer’s standard product for little to no real benefit. 
A Tier 1 automotive supplier was concerned its compressed air system was not operating as efficiently as it could be. The situation called for a site visit and metering and evaluation of the company’s air compressors to generate a representative data sample that accurately captured the compressed air needs during typical production and non-production periods.
When you take care of your air compressor, it will continue to take care of you. Following the recommended preventive maintenance procedures as outlined by the manufacturer will extend the life of your air compressor, save energy costs and reduce the risk of unexpected downtime. Here’s what facility managers should know about air compressor preventive maintenance — and when to call the experts.
There are times when rotary screw air compressors must operate in high ambient temperatures, leaving questions about the impact on these vital machines. What follows is an overview of what’s possible in these conditions, along with advice for ensuring the optimal performance of these air compressors in hot ambient conditions. Although all air compressors compress air, there is a difference in how centrifugal, oil flooded rotary screw, oil free rotary screw, piston and scroll machines compress air. Because this article focuses on rotary screw air compressors, it’s important to know the difference between oil free and oil flooded air compressors. This can be understood in part by looking at the actual air compressor component, which is often referred to the “airend”.  
Here’s a review of changes taking place with the continued evolution of remote monitoring of air compressor systems and how the technology stands to improve compressed air maintenance –while adding to the bottom line.
Lubricants play a critical role in the safe, efficient, and a reliable operation of oil-flooded rotary screw air compressors. There are many factors to contemplate during the selection process, such as inlet air quality, temperature, and cost. One key factor often not given enough consideration is how the selected product will affect the maintenance cycle, and how these costs can be put into perspective. Presented here a review of available options, and how base stock selection can affect the maintenance of an air compressor.