One benefit of reduced production is the potential to save a significant amount on a facility’s monthly energy costs. Because compressed air accounts for a large amount of a plant’s total energy costs, decreased production (and therefore decreased compressed air usage) can have a positive impact on your energy bill. Here are three tips that can help you save on energy costs during periods of slower production.
Reduce Unloaded Running Hours.
Air demand in an industrial compressed air system typically fluctuates; using this fluctuating demand to reduce unloaded running hours is a first step to optimizing energy efficiency. How? Here are a few ways:
Compressor Controllers. These provide user-friendly ways to reduce unloaded running hours. If you have multiple compressors, then the controller has typically been set-up to do this automatically. If there is no central controller, then the compressor pressure bands have probably been set up in a cascade method. This means that when the target air pressure is reached, the on-board controllers will stop the machines.
If compressors are left running unloaded after working hours, they still use as much as 25% of the energy consumed at full load. What's more, if there are leaks in the system, the compressors may switch to loaded running occasionally, consuming even more energy.
Turning Compressors Off. The shorter the production time, you might be able to save more in energy costs by switching compressors off entirely instead of letting them run unloaded. If production is reduced but not stopped, a possibility would be to isolate areas of the factory that are not currently being used and update your plan accordingly.
Eliminate Air Leaks.
If your compressor installation is older, air leaks can be a huge source of wasted energy. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 20% of total compressed air consumption may be lost through leaks – and 80% of air leaks aren’t even audible. If you’re still on-site and have time available, we highly recommend taking the opportunity to detect the leaks in your system. It can result in very quick savings.
As a rule of thumb for most compressors, a reduction of 1 bar in pressure (14.5 psi) will lead to a 7% saving in electricity consumption. The pressure settings of the compressor should be adjusted until the lowest pressure can be reached and the pressure band reduced without affecting the application.
If your compressor installation has a centralized system responsible for multiple controllers, the network can be set to run within a narrow pressure band – ensuring that the compressed air network matches your precise needs. The controller can also allow you to manually or automatically create two different pressure bands to optimize energy use within different periods, drastically reducing energy costs at low-use times.
Have additional questions on the best methods for reducing the energy costs associated with your compressor installation, please reach out to us at www.atlascopco.com/air-usa! We’re always here to assist.