Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Compressed Air Audit
High energy costs and increased environmental consciousness have put industries under immense pressure to find ways to maximise energy efficiency. One area in which companies are looking to reduce power consumption is in the operation of compressed air systems. Studies have found that inefficiencies in compressed air systems contribute to, on average, more than 30 percent in additional energy consumption! A compressed air audit is a cost-effective process that helps to identify inefficiencies, maintenance issues, and areas of potential savings in industrial compressed air units.
A compressed air audit is performed in three major ways:
1. Visual inspection
2. Data logging
3. Air audit
As the name suggests, visual inspection involves a thorough visual check of the entire compressed air system. It's the simplest of all compressed air audit procedures, and it does not involve the use of any hardware. During the audit process, inspectors may check and analyse things like the piping structure, filters, dryers, and condensate drains.
A visual check can help identify many of the issues that affect the compressed air system's overall performance, including leaks, improper piping design, faulty compressor, and more. It can also be very handy in providing a brief assessment of the existing productivity levels, nature of the system's components and determining the changes that could be undertaken in order to maximise efficiency.
This is a more advanced procedure that involves the use of data loggers and modern computer-aided processes to analyse the performance of a compressed air system. This procedure allows the system's performance to be monitored without the need to interfere with its air distribution network. All necessary data required to ascertain the efficiency of the compressed air system is gathered using data loggers. Then it's transferred into a computer, whereupon a system-specific performance profile is created.
The profile helps to identify things like idling performance, air demand fluctuations, compressor operation, and power allocation and compressed air demand in each compressor. Computer programs may also be used to evaluate the data and simulate alternative systems for comparison purposes. This helps to identify the modernization measures, such as replacement of some components or new configurations, which may have to be undertaken in order to improve the system.
Some compressed air audit firms use data logging of the electricity current (Amps), and then use a standard formula that includes a power factor to determine the value of kW. Graphs illustrating demand may also be included.
Air audits involve the taking of specific measurements, such as power and flow rate, leak detection, etc. During the audit process, air measurements are typically undertaken over a 7-day cycle to determine the exact compressed air demand of a plant. This helps identify energy costs, and areas of potential savings. Again, this procedure can be carried out without interrupting the air distribution network.
Air leak detection is done to give an accurate account of any existing air leaks. Research has shown that air leaks are responsible for up to 20 percent of compressed air system demand. You can imagine the kind of savings you can make by identifying and rectifying leaks on your facility's system.
An air quality audit checks if there's any oil or water in the compressed air. Apart from contributing to the frequent and costly filter cartridge changes, dirty air can cause work interruptions or stoppages.
With all these benefits, any money you may spend on compressed air audit is worth every penny. So don't be hesitant to spend money on it. You'll not only lower your energy costs, but your production lines will operate in a more efficient manner as well.