Thursday, September 10, 2015

I Did My Air System Audit and Fixed Everything, So I'm Done - Right?

Let's say that you did a supply-side audit and upgraded your compressor room with the latest and greatest VFD compressor along with a cycling dryer along with the appropriate sized receivers with zero loss drains. You might have even put a demand controller and system flowmeters in place. Here is the supply side checklist:
  1. Flowmeter - Record and track your air system data at the flowmeter - preferably by having it integrated into your system or at least downloading it on a weekly basis - any changes go find the reason why

  2. Controls - As good as your system controls started out they can get out of sequence or improperly adjusted. There have been cases where the VFD compressor is supposed to be the trim machine but ended up being the base load machine. This completely ruins any energy savings originally planned. Do a weekly check for all shifts.

  3. Drains - Any air system efficiency upgrades include zero loss strains. Check to see if they're still working properly. Establish a monthly maintenance program

  4. Maintenance - Lack of maintenance can diminish the efficiency of any good compressor system. Be sure that the inlet filter/coolers/dryer condensers are cleaned regularly based on the compressor room environment. This should be done by expert maintenance staff and not wait for the service company.

  5. Demand Controller - This unit regulates the air pressure out into the system creating storage in the compressor room tanks. Sometimes the air compressor pressure elf makes adjustments without other people knowing and the reduced pressure /increased storage savings goes away. Check monthly and lock if possible.
You have done all the right things in the compressor room with the latest and greatest equipment and the proper receivers etc. You went out into the plant and looked for air hogs/bad piping/incorrect low pressure air use along with other opportunities. What you to do now is check on the following quarterly:
  1. Regulator - If you did not put locking regulators on stations to reduce the air from line pressure to an appropriate pressure for the operation I would bet you $10 that the regulator is cranked all the way up. Check them and replace them with locking regulators if necessary

  2. Blow Offs - Many locations that originally had copper or a pipe nipple were converted to engineered blow offs to conserve 60% of the year. Unfortunately they are quiet and many operators take them off and go back to the old ways.

  3. Blowers - Compressed air oftentimes replaced by blowers that operate on 10% of the KW used for the same application by an air compressor. Unfortunately blowers need maintenance to continue to run efficiently and sometimes fail without replacement. The operator then goes back to compressed air. Maintain your blowers monthly and to replace as appropriate.

  4. Piping - Many times a new piece of equipment is installed quickly creating problems with the redesigned air system. No unit should be piped into the system without the Air System Sheriff approving.
This all may seem obvious but unfortunately the day-to-day business of running a facility and putting out fires takes her attention away from what was well-intentioned. It is absolutely critical to have the Air System Sheriff who is responsible for maintaining the efficiency. It is also critical that the team understand that if the company spent $100,000 to upgrade the air system to save $30,000 annually it is their responsibility maintain the savings.

Just keep in mind that the air system is like a bridge and you need to continuously keep after it or it's going to deteriorate. The challenge is making the time and energy available to maintain the air system efficiency.

If you need some help in organizing this please call Frank Lederer call at 508-351-1817 or email him at