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Tips to help you increase your compressor installation efficiency

Tips to help you increase your compressor installation efficiency banner

Did you know that compressed air is one of the most expensive inputs for industrial producers? That's right, a facility's compressed air installation might account for anywhere between 12% and 40% of its overall energy costs. This means that over time, finding creative ways (no matter how minor) to boost compressed air efficiency might result in significant savings! There are numerous other activities you can take, but some of the most popular ones are leak eradication, air audits, lower pressure bands, and reducing unloaded running hours. Continue reading to learn more about cost-saving strategies and how to make sure your compressor system is operating as effectively as possible.

1. Think About Heat Recovery

One area that offers manufacturers a significant opportunity for savings? Recovering the waste heat from air compressors! Without energy recovery, this heat is lost into the atmosphere via the cooling system and radiation. While the amount of electrical energy that can be recovered depends on the size of the compressor and the running hours, typical recoveries are between 70% for oil-injected screw compressors to up to 94% for oil-free water-cooled screw compressors. Recovering heat from compressed air also reduces the need for purchasing energy – i.e., for heating hot water or using exhausted cooling air for space heating.

2. Ensure Your Compressed Air Equipment is Sized Correctly

By selecting an air compressor that is too small for your business, you risk production problems and higher costs because of energy waste. Consider these inquiries when picking the appropriate kind of compressor:

  • What is the application?
  • How much air flow does my facility/workshop use?
  • What is the minimum pressure needed within the facility?
  • Do I need clean, dry air?
  • How many hours per year does my compressor operate?
  • How many shifts do I run per day?
  • Is there fluctuation in flow demand between shifts?
  • Are there any plans for future expansion?
  • Once you have the answers to the above, make sure that you select your compressor based not only on initial cost, but on the lowest total lifecycle costs

3. Consider New Compressor Technologies

Air compressors are long-term investments that will be crucial to your company's future success. The initial capital investment is only a small portion of how much your compressor will ultimately cost you because the average factory replaces air compressors every 7 to 10 years. The energy use of your air compressor will account for 70% (or more!) of its lifecycle costs.

Upgrading or changing your compressed air installation to the most recent technology can cut your energy use by up to 25%. When replacing an outdated or inefficient compressor, the upfront cost is frequently cheaper than the ongoing operating expenses. Your bottom line will benefit right away from a contemporary air compressor equipped with the newest controllers and energy-efficient motors.

You might also consider improving some components of your compressor! Contact your compressed air provider to inquire about the possibilities of replacing your compressor's main parts with new, more effective ones. For instance, replacing your existing electronic controller on your compressor with the newest model will provide you access to the most cutting-edge compressor control management, reduced unloaded running, and increased efficiency.

4. Make Sure You Have the Right Compressor Type

Oil-free air (typically designated as Class 0) is necessary for many applications in the food and beverage, electronics, automotive, textile, and pharmaceutical industries in order to ensure product integrity and quality. Oil-free compressed air technology will help to reduce the expense of oil condensate treatment, energy loss from pressure drop in filters, expensive food grade lubricants used in food and beverage applications, and expensive filter replacements.

If your application is particularly large-scale, you may also want to think about using a centrifugal compressor since they provide energy efficiency in applications requiring bulk air or process air with a flat load. They are also excellent for supplying a baseline flow in mixed setups with VSD screw compressors.

5. Consider VSD (Variable Speed Drive)

The majority of manufacturing processes have varying degrees of demand at various times, which could result in the compressor operating off-load or idle (not producing any compressed air) for extended periods of time. Since a variable speed drive unit only generates compressed air when necessary, replacing a fixed speed compressor with one can result in significant cost savings. Additionally, the compressor's offload running, which is known to waste energy, is reduced as a result. Even at full load, a VSD compressor can save up to 50% more energy than a fixed speed unit. A VSD+ unit can save up to 75% more energy than a fixed speed unit.

Keep in mind that investing in routine preventative maintenance is the best method to take care of your compressed air system throughout this process! This will maintain the gains in efficiency you made by buying a new compressor or enhance the functionality of an older machine.