Reliability is something you only think about when you don’t have it…and then it’s a major problem. When you turn the key in your ignition each morning on your way to work, you expect your car to start. If it doesn’t, it’s never a good sign. In the best case it’s a dead battery and you’ll only be an hour late. At worst, you are looking at very expensive repairs.
It’s the same with compressed air systems. You flip the switch and expect your system to deliver a consistent supply of high-quality air. If it doesn’t, the impact can be immediate, drastic, and costly as you deal with production downtime, expensive repairs, and lost revenue.
There is only one way to prevent this from happening: Installing a supremely reliable compressed air system that minimizes the risk of these unscheduled downtimes. Using top-quality products will go a long way toward ensuring that your system is available when you need it.
While a simple control system may suffice for a single compressor that meets a steady air demand, the need for a central controller increases with the complexity of a compressed air system. After all, a compressed air network is much more than the sum of its parts: It has to be regarded as a whole and not just as a series of individual components.
In other words, even if a business only uses cutting edge equipment, such as variable speed drive (VSD) compressors and dryers, it doesn’t mean that the compressed air network in its entirety is as reliable and efficient as it can be.
Consider this: A 1-bar pressure band reduction can mean direct energy savings of up to 7%. That is why a centrally controlled and optimized compressor system is so valuable – especially when used with systems that include multiple compressors and dryers, different types of end users and varying demand. In those cases, a central controller can offer instant savings by establishing demand patterns, identifying weak points (for example air leaks in the supply system) and rectifying them, as well as detecting areas where improvements can be made.
So how exactly can a centralized controller optimize a compressed air system? Put simply, it will recognize when to switch on which compressor or dryer based on how much air is needed at any given time. This prevents the costly over-production of compressed air.
For example, if there is a sudden spike in air demand, a large compressor can be switched in. If the demand increases just a little, then only a much smaller compressor will be added. Furthermore, a central control system can also distribute the workload across all compressors evenly over time or prioritize the newest, most energy efficient models.
Another benefit of a central controller is that it can optimize the operating points of variable speed drive units, i.e. they ensure that multiple VSD compressors working together each operate at their optimum point. This maximizes energy savings and optimizes the service life of your equipment.
Even more benefits
Central control systems offer advantages that go beyond the energy efficiency of the compressed air network. They can also help operators schedule maintenance tasks or shutdowns so that they impact production as little as possible.
In addition, they play a big role in reducing the premature wear of machines by spreading the workload across all units. That means greater reliability as well as lower service and maintenance costs.
Even better, when combining your central controller with a remote monitoring system, you can optimize your compressed air network from just about anywhere. This will not only allow you to save energy and reduce costs but also to become aware of any potential problems right away and address them quickly – because there is nothing like the peace of mind reliability provides.