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Doing a compressed air survey on your plant

  1. Mar 16, 2010 #1
    Hello fellow PF-friends.

    I'm in the works of doing a compressed air survey where we wish to look at the savings potential for our plant. As there's a lack of control and overview we're going back to the basics (which means I have to start from scratch). I'm physically tracking the largest pipes and redrawing as I go (it's a mess as no one has been in charge of expansions).

    I feel that I've gotten most of them now, all down till one inch pipes -- is this enough for just getting the overview, or will I find that much of leekage and such are in the smallest joints, etc.?

    We have four 36m3 compressors which run just about constant, and one 24m3 which regulates, and there's miles (km) of pipes.

    I've gotten a printout of the power usuage for the compressors for the last year (by the hour) and plan to use this to measure any swings of demand (long term). Shimming trough I can already tell there's been a significant increase the last year (going from about 10 MWh to 13MWh per week) -- this seems strange to me.

    It would also be interesting to figure out how large our theoretical need is and compare this to what we produce today, or at least do an estimation. Does anyone have advice on how to do this?

    We do not have machinary who are big spenders (atleast not any who count for more than 5%) so how would we approuch this in a good way?

    If anyone has done a compressed air survey on their plant and got advice on how to attack this problem it would be highly appricated.

    Thanks a lot in advance! :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2010 #2
    Another thought that I've made is: What's the best way to monitor the compressed air on such a large plant?

    I've come to realize that if there's ever gonne happen anything I need to delegate responsibility and make each division work on their pipes/equipement/etc. In order to do so we need to figure out how much each division is using.

    Do I have to buy some expensive digital flowrate measuring equipment, and hook it up to each "mainpipe" to each division? I'm fairly certain this is the way to go, unless anyone has any objections..

    If that's the case, where would you get this stuff?
  4. Mar 16, 2010 #3


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    Welcome to PF, Scott.
    There are a couple of guys here who can probably help you out significantly. Unfortunately, I'm not one of them. My only possible contribution would be to inquire as to whether or not you have investigated any efficiency difference between different piping materials. As in, would stainless steel save any losses over ABS (just a random example). Anyhow, as I said, there are some heavy-duty experts kicking around somewhere. They should get around to you before too long.
  5. Mar 16, 2010 #4
    A high efficiency motor might help you meet your targets especially if they are on all the time.
  6. Mar 16, 2010 #5
    Do you get spare parts from the compressor vendor? Try asking them your questions, they may be able to help. Some will supply temporary flow instruments and provide lots of advice. If you're already doing business (eg, spare parts) then you can avoid the need for a fictional system upgrade to get their attention and some of their time.

    Otherwise, look for copies of the books provided by Ingersoll-Rand, Atlas-Copco, etc. I seem to recall lots of good practical advice there.
  7. Mar 17, 2010 #6
    Thank you very much, sir :)

    You are probably correct, but at this time a redesign of the system isn't a option.
    But yes, improvement of drives is an issue.

    Yes we do, and I too think it's a good idea. We have a service agreement with our provider (used to be Atlas-Copco, but my predecessor was not satisifed) and I will use them. Just want to get an overview, and know what options I got so I wont be too inclined to accept their product pushing.

    The audit is all part of a energy saving program. I am aware that improving drives (high efficency motors, speed control), upgrading compressors, use sophisicated control systems, recovering waste heat, reducing frictional pressure loss (increasing pipe diameter), optimizing end use devices, and removing leeks are all options. But I need to sell these ideas to the econmics -- so I need to know what options are the most optimal. Currently that means the ones with the shortest pay-back time, and lowest investments.

    I've come to the conclusion that doing a air-leek seek (some claim this to be up to 30%) on the system, and that's all good. But I need a way to measure the improvements, and a way to delegate responsibility to each division.
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