5 Tips to Reduce Wasteful Consumption of Compressed Air
by Erik Arfalk
Contrary to popular belief, compressed air is not a free utility. Almost all industrial plants use compressed air, but little attention is given to its costs when used improperly.
Users can reduce wasteful consumption of compressed air, saving time and money, with the following tips:
1. Identify, repair and prevent leaks
Leaks can cause problems within your system that result in more energy consumption and costly resources needed to combat the issue. It’s important to identify and repair all leaks, starting with the leak that consumes the most compressed air. After fixes are made, a continuous leak detection and elimination program should be implemented to prevent future leaks.
2. Turn off compressed air supply when not in use
Stop the supply of compressed air to applications that are not in operation to reduce consumption. This can be accomplished by various methods from manually closing a discharge valve or adding a solenoid valve and a control system in the air supply to each application. Closing the valve at night or on the weekend and preventing the compressor from turning to fill leaks when production is not running can be a huge source of energy savings.
3. Determine cost of compressed air for each machine or process
Accurate air consumption and electrical power measurement allow proper assessment of the true cost of operation. In turn, this can help manage and conserve available resources.
4. Only use the required amount of compressed air
Using higher than needed pressures and extended cycle times will result in excessive air usage. Open-blowing applications also waste compressed air that can easily add unnecessary costs to your energy bill. If your process is currently using open blowing, investigate the use of air nozzles, which can reduce compressed air usage by at least 30 percent.
5. Analyze simultaneous compressed air needs
All parts of a process may not need air simultaneously. Analyze the peak and average rates of flow to determine actual compressed needs and whether local secondary storage may be useful.
These tips can help reduce inappropriate uses of compressed air, but the true cost of operation is dependent on accurate measurement of compressed air flow and energy consumption. Contact an Atlas Copco expert today for a full audit.