Stopping small air leaks saves energy long-term

Air leaks in facilities are common and regular maintenance can help stop them before they become a major drain on energy costs.

11/01/2016


Air leaks in facilities are common and regular maintenance can help stop them before they become a major drain on energy costs. Courtesy: LSElectricThere are many ways in which commercial businesses spend money on energy. However, in many cases up to 10% of the energy can be directly attributed to the use of compressed air. This significant expenditure is one that should be looked at carefully to determine ways to reduce energy usage in order to save money and increase profitability.

Although there is a significant investment in purchasing large air compressors for commercial businesses, the vast majority of the cost to use compressors is going to be seen in electrical power. There are a number of different ways to reduce the cost spent on energy. Some important factors to consider are turning idle compressors off, reducing pressure, ensuring the compressors are not used inappropriately, and maintaining the compressors properly.

Another factor that should not be overlooked is the possibility for leaks. This is a common problem in many facilities, especially if they are not maintained properly and on a routine basis. It is not out of the question to have about 20% of your total energy expenditure for compressed air directly related to these leaks.

The primary reason to look for air leaks would be the financial savings that are available. Even small air leaks of 1/16" in size could cause a business to spend hundreds of dollars extra every year in operating costs. As the size of the leak increases, the money spent on operating costs will rise significantly.

Other benefits of looking for an air leak and fixing it include the way the tools that use compressed air operate. Air tools are going to work less efficiently, and it can impact productivity. Additionally, the equipment may need to cycle more frequently. This can shorten the lifespan of any tool that is attached to the equipment, including the compressor.

Leaks can occur in any part of the system, but they are more common in areas such as the pressure regulators, pipe joints, couplings, fittings, hoses, shut off valves and open condensate traps.

Air leaks are impossible to see, so a visual inspection of the equipment is not going to provide an estimate on the severity of the problem. Air leaks will make a sound, however, it is possible to detect even the smallest of leaks through the use of an ultrasonic air leak detector. Since the air is moving from high pressure to low pressure, it creates a turbulent flow that can be picked up and identified by the ultrasonic detector. The operator simply scans the area and then follows the sound to pinpoint the problem.

- David Manney is a marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on L&S Electric Watts New Blog. L&S Electric Inc. is a CFE Media content partner.



The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me