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.
In terms of compressed air systems, it’s not unusual to see a plant with 10 to 15 air compressors, each of which is rated to provide 3,000 to 4,000 scfm of air. The air is used for everything from moving product, to powering pneumatic tools, pumps, and fans, to cleaning. There are easily 1,500 pneumatic control valves at a single plant.
Long gone are the days when cost and performance could be the only concern for companies manufacturing refrigerated compressed air dryers using refrigerant compressors. In 2019, accelerated governmental (Europe) regulations and a global concern for sustainability have brought new considerations to the table. What is the Global Warming Potential (GWP) of the refrigerants used in dryers and what is their environmental impact?
As demand for compressed air use continues to grow, the future looks bright for distributors who design, sell, install and service compressed air systems. But perhaps only one thing stands in the way of continued growth and profitability for the vast majority of distributors throughout the United States: the shortage of experienced air compressor service technicians.
Brewing is normally broken down into four stages-malting, mashing, boiling and fermenting. The complex chemical processes begin with a few simple ingredients - hops, grain, yeast and water. Recently there have been technological advancements to safeguard that these steps are attained accurately, efficiently and with cost-savings. One particular improvement is the use of nitrogen during the brewing process. The addition of an onsite nitrogen generator allows brewers to reduce their nitrogen costs, eliminate downtime, and reduce safety risks related to bulk gas cylinder delivery and changeouts.
Introduced in the 1960s and operated successfully worldwide, the Heat of Compression (HOC) Desiccant Dryer has been a viable and successful compressed air drying technology for over 50 years.  In our ongoing series on missed-demand opportunities, we’ll discuss basic operating parameters of HOC dryers and shed light on common misperceptions associated with the technology.
For more than 20 years, Hungarian-based Doroti Pack Ltd. has specialized in the production and servicing of state-of-the-art packaging machines. Their focus is on developing, manufacturing, producing and selling premium-quality packaging equipment, including their line of DorPack thermoforming machines which are often used for food products such as fresh meat, fish, dairy products, bakery ware, confectionery and ready-cooked foods. Dorati Pack chose to incorporate Aventics pneumatic components in latest thermoforming machine for optimal productivity and machine longevity.
Experienced auditors become wary when they see desiccant dryers installed in customers’ plants. These dryers are required when a plant needs instrument-quality compressed air, or when compressed air piping is exposed to freezing temperatures. However, while desiccant dryers can gain this level of quality, the energy cost of stepping up from a dewpoint of 35 oF to a level of -40 oF increases quite considerably. To attempt to reduce the energy costs of drying to these low levels, heated blower desiccant styles may be used. This article describes three common desiccant dryer types, as well as some experiences, good and bad, with heated blower types.
Compressed Air Best Practices® interviewed Sang Woo Lee, CEO of Coaire Corporation. I had enough experience with compressors used in refrigeration to see there was a lot of area for growth, particularly with scroll technology given that its an oil-less air compressor in addition to its efficiencies, noise level and ability to offer customers longevity. I also liked that Coaire has a long history of innovative air compressor technology. In 1968, it became the first Korean company to develop and manufacture a reciprocating air compressor. Later, it became the first Korean manufacturer of rotary screw air compressors, which occurred after it established ties with SRM to develop unique airend technology.
In most industrial plants, data is everywhere. It resides in flow through pipes, pressure in tanks, vibration on rotating equipment, temperatures in heat exchangers, and electrical energy power consumption in motors. If we can acquire this data and make sense out of the patterns we can take actions to make our plants more efficient and reliable.
After getting its start manufacturing cost-effective products to the healthcare industry, 40 years later, 1888 Mills has become the fourth largest towel manufacturer in the world, and the largest towel manufacturer in the U.S. With facilities in the United States, Pakistan and Bangladesh, 1888 Mills’ towels are used in almost every corner of the world. 1888 Mills is recognized as a leader in innovation in the textile industry and produces 176,000 pounds of towels per week.