Industrial Utility Efficiency    


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.

Air Compressors

There is usually a deep feeling of pride welling up inside the designers and installers after completing the installation of a new compressed air system, especially if it starts up and works perfectly. But what happens after a few years, are things as perfect as at the start? This is a question with an answer that very few people know for their system. This article describes some interesting experiences with a food products company at two plants where compressed air assessments of optimized systems done a few years after the system upgrades showed problems.

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.


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

Often, multiple centrifugal air compressors are set up to simply react to air demand, which requires the system to not only meet the new demand, but also make up for air depleted in the main header. This typically results in too much supply, which results in bypassing the air to atmosphere. The result is wasted energy use.


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.


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.


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.
A recent comparative vacuum technology study performed by Dr. Kingman Yee, as part of a Chrysler Summer Intern Professors Program, found that air consumption could be reduced by 98% when equipping a robot’s end-of-arm tooling with COAXÆ technology and a Vacustat™ check valve.
Reducing energy costs and pollution emissions involves many areas within an industrial facility.  My studies have found seven (7) key (or common) areas where low cost practical projects can be implemented.  Combined, these projects provide savings exceeding 10% of the annual energy spend with an average payback of less than one year.
If you have ever looked at the small print of a compressor brochure or a CAGI Data Sheet or a compressor technical information page, you have probably seen some reference to one of the above standards.  At one time or another, US compressor manufacturers have used these standards to test and report compressor performance.  These are referred to as “Acceptance Test” codes.
Air cannons, also known as air blasters or just “blasters” belong to a family of products known as flow aid devices. For over 30 years, air cannons have been used widely in industries such as cement manufacturing, electric power generation, coal, metal, and non-metal mining, and pulp and paper manufacturing.
Reducing energy costs and pollution emissions involves many areas within an industrial facility.  My studies have found seven (7) key (or common) areas where low cost practical projects can be implemented.  Combined, these projects provide savings exceeding 10% of the annual energy spend with an average payback of less than one year.
Compressed Air Best Practices® Magazine spoke with Mr. Ed McGovern (VP Sales & Business Development) of PIAB North America.
How do you test a 747 engine to ensure reliability once it’s airborne at 600 miles an hour?
Faced with rising energy costs, a large electroplating company sought to improve the efficiency and reliability of its compressed air system. After getting a quote from their vendor on a new 300-hp compressor to replace an existing unit, the company sought a comparison quote due to the significant investment the new compressor represented. Based on a recommendation from one of their customers, they turned to Scales Industrial Technologies.
In February of 2008, a sugar plant near Savannah, Georgia suffered the ultimate tragedy. Fouteen employees were killed and 40 injured when finely ground motes of sugar dust ignited, setting off a violent blast. If the fatalities and a tarnished reputation weren’t enough, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) then fined the company more than 8 million dollars in workplace violations related to combustible dust.
Nuclear power plants produce electricity for people, business and industry.  Electricity is produced in a similar fashion as fossil fuel (i.e., coal, oil, etc.) power plants, using steam to drive a turbines which spin an electrical generator, producing the electricity.