Turkey bacon, fat-free ice cream and compressed air leaks

Focused on compressed air, chilling water, and vacuum technologies, the first-ever Compressed Air Best Practices (CABP) Expo brought together professionals from throughout the industry, and ideas were flowing. As education chair for the Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI), I was fortunate to host a session on compressed air efficiency, optimization, and performance verification.

Three themes stand out from the event:

  1. Optimization strategies – Energy accounts for more than three-quarters of the total lifecycle cost of compressed air, so it’s no wonder that optimization is a key topic. In a study on optimization services, the U.S. Energy Department discovered that about 10% of all electrical energy consumed in a typical manufacturing plant comes from compressed air. And, while air is free, compressed air is costly. Compressed air interests and users took advantage of the time together to discuss ways to reduce waste, stabilize pressure, and improve system efficiency. Energy Star® representative Walt Tunnessen reminded us that compressed air hits the top of the list in his program for the industry challenge.
  2. Design and specifications – Avoid the need to overdesign or underspecify equipment with the assurance that the specification meets the needs of production.
  3. Maintaining and operating – How do you keep your equipment as close to day-one health as possible? The short answer is proper maintenance. Technology enables a new world of reliability-centered maintenance and condition-based maintenance. Maintenance basics and what they entail was a topic of discussion in the compressed-air track.

My favorite quote at the event came from the entertaining and spot-on Leslie Marshall, corporate energy engineering lead for General Mills: “There are three things I hate: turkey bacon, fat-free ice cream and compressed air leaks.” Similar to unsatisfying pursuits like consuming turkey bacon or fat-free ice cream, not managing valuable compressed air can be a major waste of money. Compressed air is expensive, and many applications overuse or waste this valuable utility. It is a good and worthy pursuit to find the waste and correct it.

What stood out for you? For more information on the CABP Expo, check out cabpexpo.com. Next year, it moves to Nashville. Hope to see you there – less any turkey bacon or fat-free ice cream, of course.