Compressed air: Find the leaks, lower the pressure, and measure the results
Create "good practices" around continuous monitoring of system leaks
Companies often face the challenge of identifying best practices for compressed air energy conservation by assessing the value others have realized while putting best practices into action. Without fail, every month brings an assortment of technical epiphanies, attempting to inspire the compressed air consumer with an audit expert’s secrets to success.
As an organization, Ingersoll Rand has audited thousands of systems worldwide. We routinely work with multinational companies to develop and execute strategies designed to deliver energy savings while simultaneously improving operational quality, reliability, and productivity. Leveraging this experience and associated results, we have identified what appears to be the “best” compressed air best practice of all.
For the purpose of ranking the quality or significance of any product or service, it is common to use a good, better, best segmentation. With this as a guide, some easy-to-execute energy conservation measures that may be considered good practices warrant consideration. By redefining these common practices as “good practices,” what is arguably the “best” best practice can be articulated without the redundant abuse of the word “best.”
Find the leaks
The first “good practice” is an obvious one: reduce the quantity of compressed air associated with leaks. This is an energy conservation measure that is usually executed by an organization without having to enlist the services of a specialized service provider. In theory, this should be easy because fixing a leak does not require specialized skills or capital expenditure.
Ultrasonic leak detection equipment has been readily available for years, and many organizations have purchased the tools required to easily locate compressed air leaks of all sizes during normal production periods. This technology allows an operator to hone in on the specific acoustic characteristics of a compressed air leak and filter out all surrounding production noise. This has made finding leaks easy, but unfortunately finding a leak does not impact the energy required to support a compressed air system.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.