Compressed air systems are as much a part of an industrial plant as the personnel on the floor. Sometimes, those individuals might use compressed air inappropriately. A few common misuses include drying, sparging, aspirating or atomizing, padding, vacuum generation and cooling personnel, not to mention waste resulting from idle or abandoned equipment.
A compressed air audit and optimization program can be a starting point for getting the most out of a system. In a recent Plant Services survey on compressed air, almost half (45%) of the respondents indicated they’d conducted a compressed air system audit within the past year.
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One-third of respondents had indicated that they already had hired a consultant and initiated steps in an optimization program, and only one of them indicated disappointment with the program.
When asked what percent of their plant’s electricity is consumed by compressed air systems, 31% were unaware of the answer; however, almost 34% said it was 5% or less.
Forty percent of participants also weren’t sure what percent of their motor system energy is consumed by compressed air systems, although 27% indicated it was 5% or less.
Preventive actions to take care of compressed air leaks were a bit of a mixed bag, but roughly two-thirds said they repair the leaks, while 17% check for leaks around compressors and air dryers and 9% don’t take any action at all. Other measures included checking joints for leaks, tagging leaks, checking for open bleed valves and checking regulators and tools for leaks.
Steps taken within the past six months included replacing or repairing air filters (63%); replacing or upgrading condensate drains (28%); reconfiguring piping to reduce pressure loss (23%); adding, upgrading or reconfiguring air dryers (22%); adding, restoring or upgrading compressor controls (17%); modifying or replacing regulators (17%); adding compressed air storage (16%); reworking or correcting header piping (15%); installing or upgrading distribution control system (11%); improving compressor room ventilation (8%); replacing current compressor with a more efficient model (8%); adding a smaller compressor for off-peak loads (6%); and installing or upgrading ball valves in the distribution system (6%). Seventeen percent of the respondents indicated they have not taken any steps in the past six months.
When asked about the biggest problem with their compressed air systems, 44% said they have no problems to report, 25% noted excess moisture in compressed air and 18% cited inadequate pressure at points in the system
La-Man's AMD-035 SuperStar Membrane Dryer provides ultra-clean, ultra-dry compressed air
Exair's PVDF Super Air Knife is suitable for corrosive environments