Industrial Utility Efficiency    


In manufacturing and packaging facilities that rely on pneumatics, there’s a four-letter word worse than virtually any other: leak. Unidentified air leakage and unexpected maintenance in pneumatic systems are significant sources of revenue and productivity loss but identifying the cause of leakages and preventing unforeseen downtime is typically a challenge.
Compressed air contamination can come in various forms, including particles, water, oil, and microorganisms. Non-viable particle contamination is specified in ISO 8573-4:2019 as one of the major contaminants in compressed air to be monitored. Troubleshooting particle contamination with Laser Particle Counters (LPCs) is the focus of this article.
Wherever compressed air is used, accurate and continuous monitoring of the dew point temperature is advisable. The dew point provides information about the absolute humidity content of the compressed air. A too high humidity content can have negative effects on the quality of the final product, lead to problems during the manufacturing process, or even result in complete system shutdown. Therefore, operators of compressed air systems should address this issue before it causes serious and costly issues. The following explains the basics of dew point measurement and what is important in practice.
Dew point is simply the temperature to which air must be cooled for the water vapor within to condense into dew or frost. At any temperature, there is a maximum amount of water vapor that the air can hold. This maximum amount is called the water vapor saturation pressure. If more water vapor is added beyond this point, it will result in condensation.
The foundation of any purification system is its filtration and of the ten main contaminants found in a compressed air system, filtration is responsible for the treatment of nine of them. Coalescing filters are the most important piece of purification equipment as they reduce six of the ten contaminants and a look in any air compressor room will find a pair of coalescing filters (backed up with dry particulate and oil vapor removal filters).
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.  
The Best Practices EXPO & Conference held from October 13-16, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee, saw a significant increase in attendance growing by 15 percent to 850 attendees from 20 countries. End user (factory personnel) attendance grew by 60 percent! The EXPO was also truly international showcasing 115 exhibitors from 16 countries and EXPO attendance was free for qualified industry personnel. This SHOW REPORT EXTRA Part 2 complements our 2019 Best Practices EXPO & Conference Show Report and the Show Extra Part 1 Report. 
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. 
High accuracy of multiple measured parameters is critical for the development of a trusted compressed air system baseline audit. The same is true for follow-on performance validation after system improvements have been implemented. The use of data acquisition systems using Modbus-interfaced transducers can aid auditors in achieving a thorough and highly accurate system performance assessment.
The event brought together technology experts, systems assessment professionals, and manufacturing leaders – all of whom shared best practices and ideas manufacturing plants can use to save energy, improve sustainability initiatives and increase the overall reliability and quality of on-site utilities.
Compressed air represents one of the largest opportunities for immediate energy savings, which accounts for an average of 15% of an industrial facility’s electrical consumption. In fact, over a 10-year period, electricity can make up 76% of the total compressed air system costs. Monitoring compressed air usage, identifying compressed air waste and inefficiencies, and making investments in new compressed air equipment – including piping – are tangible ways businesses can cut their operating costs by lowering their electricity bill.