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Distributors lead the way to energy efficient compressed air systems with iiTrak monitoring units

2011-10-31

Most compressed air users would agree that to get the best return from their capital investment, the monitoring, measuring and management of compressor installations is essential if optimum control, improved productivity and energy efficiency is to be achieved .That is why Atlas Copco and its distributors conduct energy audits as the definitive approach to identifying trends, establishing how well operators’ systems are performing, and recommending energy-efficient solutions where needed.  

Applying simple non-intrusive air audit data logging techniques over a fixed period of time will establish a true indication of a system’s air usage and cost and, ultimately, will help to identify any wastage factors such as leakage and pressure drops.
 
Whether the purpose of an air audit is part of an on-going service contract, a means to monitor the progress of an established installation or to determine the level of efficiency of an existing system for its potential replacement, the fundamental question that the Atlas Copco distributor asks of the customer is ‘Do you know how much compressed air you use and how much it costs to produce?”  For the answer, the starting point is to measure the power requirement for the compressor installation, a simple initial procedure that may be followed by a full system audit where deemed necessary.
 
Atlas Copco authorised distributors have successfully applied these  monitoring techniques to a considerable number of diverse applications throughout industry, and as a result of implementing these energy-efficient measures, it is not uncommon for operating cost savings of as much as 40% to be realised. For example, the Wales-based distributor Control Gear helped a bridgeworks and water engineering products manufacturer in South Wales to make savings of £8,000 per annum following an energy audit. With the aid of iiTraks and supporting software a potential saving of £12,000 was also realised by another of the distributor’s customers who manufacture vibration dampening products in Wiltshire. In the North West, Precision Pneumatics helped a theme park to cut its annual power consumption by 50% and also achieved a 35% annual energy savings for a newspaper publisher in the area. In South Yorkshire, the Compressed Air Division of the Search Group of Companies was also able to achieve £35,000 in energy savings for a large engineering plant and a further £15,000 per annum for a health care products manufacturer.
 
That is why it is standard practice within the distributor network to conduct these investigations as part of its professional energy management expertise. Every distributor in the nationwide network has the technical capacity and dedication to help compressed air users maximise energy savings and to improve the reliability and productivity of their compressed air systems.
 
Using the latest iiTrak data loggers, which basically supersede the conventional measurement box monitoring procedure, Atlas Copco-trained engineers can help operators to establish a true indication of a system’s air usage and cost without any interruption of the air supply or production process. The end result is an accurate indication of a plant’s compressed air demand and, most importantly, of any potential wastage.
 
The compact, unobtrusive, battery-powered iiTrak loggers incorporate the latest data capture technology to log compressor load status via current sensing. They are designed as stand alone units, with one logger allocated to each machine in a multiple installation, or one unit dedicated to each compressor characteristic to be measured. Easily installed at the point of use, they are connected by a single cable for one leg of incoming power. All data is captured by the unit’s flash card memory for subsequent computer download and scrutiny.
 
The true amount of energy drawn by each compressor (both on load and off load) is measured. The mains voltage and power factor correction is also recorded which gives the true kilowattage consumed by each compressor. The candidate compressors are logged for a minimum period of one week after which the data is downloaded to a computer. In some instances, the user’s production process programme and relevant air demand variations may require an extended measurement period to be necessary but the battery power for the iiTrak units is adequate for approximately three weeks of operation before replacement is necessary. The unique Atlas Copco software programme for the iiTrak enables simulated compressor comparisons to be made against the actual system.
 
It is usual for Atlas Copco’s iiTrak energy monitoring to take place prior to a full, in-depth investigation to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the air usage by scrutinising every stage from compressed air production to its point of use.
 
The audit procedure employs sophisticated equipment items such as a mass flow measurement meter, relative pressure sensor/transmitters, ultrasonic leak detection apparatus and power meter monitoring. These instruments pinpoint inefficiencies such as inadequacies in the production and utilisation of the compressed air supply, poor pipework design and pressure drop sites. It will also reveal where systems are operating at too high a pressure and where energy is being wasted because of piping network leaks.
 
With this data available, the next stage in the distributor’s investigation is to look at the operator’s present and future requirements in depth, to submit a full report of the application findings, and to make recommendations on actions and equipment solutions based on precise audit data and close knowledge of how the application operates. As a result, customers can be provided with the most energy-efficient systems tailored to suit their precise needs. The recommendations may well include energy-efficient VSD compressors that match compressor output to process demand thereby generating energy savings of up to 35%.


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