ARTICLE

Tips to boost efficiency

25 January 2017

Andrew Power, Northern/Eastern European and CIS regional manager for Gardner Denver, offers five tips that he believes will deliver significantly improved efficiencies for compressed air applications

Businesses of all sizes have become wary of purchasing a compressed air system that’s available for a lower upfront cost, only for issues to arise further down the line that mean any savings originally realised are lost on service and maintenance costs.

Total the total cost

Organisations are moving away from considering the initial purchase price for a piece of equipment alone, and starting to focus on whole life costs. Servicing and maintenance costs are no longer seen as separate entities, but rather parts of a greater whole. As such, the performance of a system will be held to greater account, and so companies that can demonstrate product efficiencies will fare well in 2017.

Size your system

Another way to reduce total lifecycle costs is to ensure a compressor is sized correctly. Energy costs have the biggest impact on total cost of ownership, so it’s important to check the installed compressor is suitable for the demands placed upon it.

Over specifying is unnecessary and can be costly in terms of initial outlay and on-going maintenance. Engineers need to know the maximum and minimum air pressures and the compressed air flow demanded by the system. On existing systems, this information can be measured by installing a data-logging device, which audits and saves the required data. This data is then used to select the correct size of compressors, reducing the risk of specifying under or over the exact requirement.

Oil-free

A key innovation that Gardner Denver has championed throughout 2016 – and will continue to do this year – is oil-free technology. For many industries such as food and beverages, pharmaceuticals and electronics, air purity is a critical factor. Even the smallest risk of oil contamination can have serious consequences, often resulting in significant expense to resolve.

However, many other industries, where perhaps air purity is not so essential, could also benefit from the cost efficiencies that oil-free models can help realise. For example, oil-free technology reduces the cost of collecting and disposing of oil-contaminated condensate, improves the number of oil change intervals required throughout a machine’s lifetime and avoids the cost of an oil separator element and replacement downstream filters.

Review HACCP regulations

Most sites will follow the recognised principles of the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) to ensure they are complying with hygiene legislation for compressed air, removing any potential hazards or reducing these to an acceptable level. Unlike compressed air applications, where there are rigorous standards that dictate the quality and specification of air used during the process, there are no current standards in place for exhaust air quality from vacuum pumps. 

For sensitive production environments, a contaminated pump exhaust can be hazardous and, as a result, this equipment should be included within a facilities’ HACCP assessment. Indeed, the majority of vacuum pumps currently in use are oil-lubricated and many applications will operate without any problems arising. Nevertheless, there is the potential risk of oil discharging from the exhaust of this type of pump.

The possible risk of leaks from oil-lubricated vacuum pumps can be avoided through a range of measures, which include using a food grade lubricant, fitting a downstream exhaust filter or remotely piping the exhaust air.

Gardner Denver can help identify and reduce any risks through a free site survey, which may extend to working with the production team to ensure the equipment is included in the HACCP assessment.

Maintenance matters

One area that is often overlooked is management of air leaks and compressor maintenance, both of which can be costly. Any leak in a pipework system equates to wasted energy, with the Carbon Trust reporting that a leak as small as 3mm could cost more than £700 a year in wasted energy. A simple leak detection survey can identify any problems quickly, so remedial action can be taken.

As a manufacturer, Gardner Denver recommends maintenance of the compressed air system to include compressor service, regular performance and safety checks. On-going maintenance of a compressed air system is integral to its reliability and energy efficiency.

 
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