Southern Cross Compressors Australia Pty Ltd points out that a simple compressed air audit can help reduce energy usage by as much as 50%, resulting in significant savings for companies.
Southern Cross Compressors Australia is a highly efficient service and sales organisation specialising in compressed air systems.
While many companies tend to consider only the capital cost of the compressor, others look into servicing costs but very few appear to fully understand the long term real costs related to compressed air.
According to Southern Cross Compressors, the initial purchase price typically represents between 5% and 10% of the lifetime cost of owning and running a system when calculated over a ten-year period.
Around 10% of the world’s energy is used to generate compressed air. With rising energy costs, even the smallest improvement in efficiency can result in significant power cost savings.
Compressors available today are cheaper, lighter as well as energy efficient and have components designed to provide value for money over a shorter period of operational life. The initial equipment selection is therefore a key element and a full audit prior to capital investment in the plant will take in a broad study of the compressed air requirements rather than just the compressor.
An air audit will look into areas such as the air demand on each shift, load profile, operating environment, air quality and pressure required, installation and servicing requirements, air service lines or reticulation system, life expectancy, reliability, future plans and safety issues among many other factors.
According to Rod Peirce, Southern Cross General Manager, key features to consider include direct drive (no gears) air end, high efficiency (MEPS2 compliant) known brand motors and high quality electrics, laminar flow intake controller, large ‘single pass’ coolers, 316SS control lines as well as solid piping or stainless braided hoses.
One can begin by taking an inventory of the current equipment, and understand the production requirements and the corresponding impact of compressed air. It is also important to establish an open partnership with a compressed air solutions provider to address specific requirements, given that ‘no one size fits all’.
As with all plant maintenance, the introduction of World’s Best Practice principles such as developing a leak management program using ultrasonic leak detection, eliminating any improper use of air through bad work practices, shutting down the compressor when air is not required and setting the air-line pressure to meet the production line requirements will save money. For instance, a reduction in pressure of just 50kPa can represent savings of up to 4% per year.
Emphasising the importance of air audits, Rod concludes by saying that compressed air is expensive and does not end with the initial purchase and commissioning of the air compressors.