Demand for compressed air goes beyond what’s needed for end uses. It includes potentially inappropriate uses, leaks and increased demand due to excessive system pressure. To effectively cut costs in a compressed air system, these demands should be minimized.
Know what equipment you have.
Develop a basic block diagram that includes all of your compressors, dryers, filters, receivers and other equipment. The diagram serves as a valuable tool for monitoring and troubleshooting an existing system. Use the diagram to record pressures, temperatures and load conditions of each compressor so it’s easy to compare past records for future reference.
It’s also good practice to have a complete one-page inventory of all equipment sorted by manufacturer’s name, model, serial number and design ratings in case anything requires maintenance.
Know what’s happening in your system.
Create a system pressure profile using pressure readings at key points throughout the system. Developing this tool allows you to analyze and understand how your compressed air system is functioning. The system pressure profile establishes a baseline against the effect of any system changes that can be measured, including pressures, temperatures and power consumption. It also provides data needed to identify what’s causing the perceived low-pressure problem at the end use and how to implement an inexpensive solution.
Determine the electrical cost of operating each compressor.
Accurate measurements of air consumption and electrical power allow proper assessment and appreciation of the true cost of operation. In turn, this can help in management and conservation of available resources.
To calculate the cost of your compressor’s annual energy consumption, refer to this equation.
The system should deliver air at the lowest possible pressure.
Operating at the minimum practical pressure at end uses, together with a corresponding reduction in compressor discharge pressure, will reduce both the consumption of compressed air and the energy used to compress it.
Check the appropriateness of equipment used to control and deliver compressed air based on the following:
Are compressor controls of the right type to provide efficient operation? Are they operating at reduced capacities with the right range of operating pressures?
Are primary and secondary receiver sizes adequate and well located?
Should the air supply from the compressor room be controlled by a pressure/flow controller? If so, is the controller and distribution piping properly sized?
Now you’re equipped with important tips on how to assess your system and reduce your energy consumption. Still wondering what else you can do to save on energy costs? Contact us, and an Atlas Copco expert will help you identify additional ways to minimize your system’s energy use.