Four ways to manage a compressed air system's efficiency

There are many factors affecting the bottom line of your facility. A leak or inefficiency in a compressed air system may spell much higher costs. Follow these tips to ensure your compressed air system is running efficiently.


Photo by Scott Webb on UnsplashMany different industrial applications use compressed air. Although a necessity at many facilities, compressed air is also one of the more expensive factors associated with your business. An inefficiency or a problem in the compressed air system results in a significant increase in power consumption and end up costing you a lot of money. Those inefficiencies eventually cause unnecessary wear to the compressor, leading to a shorter lifespan.

Tips to save money

If you use compressed air regularly, these four tips can help reduce the amount being spent:

1. Analyze air consumption

Most businesses use compressed air on an ongoing basis without ever actually considering how to use it. Many facilities use only 50% of the compressed air for its intended purpose and are wasting the other half in leaks or misusing the system. There is also a problem with artificial demand, which is associated with an oversized compressed air system and requirements. Often, this issue results in up to 15% of your compressed air costs.

Sometimes, compressed air is used for unnecessary purposes, such as cooling personnel, cabinets, or machinery, as well as open blowing of the compressed air. In many cases, the same objective is better served with an oscillating fan or blower while reducing energy consumption.

2. Reduce the pressure

Many compressed air systems operate at a very high pressure, but they are doing so unnecessarily. In some cases, it may just be a matter of turning down the pressure. In other cases, using a secondary compressor for jobs that require less pressure end up saving money in the long run.

3. Turn the unit off

When the plant shuts down at night, for the weekend, or holidays, is the compressed air system still operating at full capacity? A significant amount of waste occurs when the compressor is running unnecessarily.

4. Check for leaks

Even a very tiny leak consumes a massive amount of compressed air energy. The leaks may not be evident when you inspect the equipment, but ultrasonic leak detectors detect even the smallest leak.

Make ultrasonic detection part of a routine maintenance program. Over time, even the tiniest air leak ends up hurting your bottom line.

David Manney is marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on Watts New, L&S Electric's blog. L&S Electric is a CFE Media content partner.

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 Top Plant.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
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.
February 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
Jan/Feb 2018
Welding ergonomics, 2017 Salary Survey, and surge protection
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards
December 2017
PID controllers, Solar-powered SCADA, Using 80 GHz radar sensors

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

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
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 Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Industrial Analytics
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
IIoT: Operations & IT
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me