Volatile energy prices, the expectation to turn a profit, the desire for a sustainable production and increasing environmental regulations. Many business owners face all of these challenges every day. When it comes to compressing air, however, there is a solution: Reducing your air compressor energy consumption by switching to a more efficient model.
At first glance, that might seem counterintuitive. How can spending more money be economical? Or how does adding more equipment help the environment? However, replacing an old model with a new one can make a major difference. By lowering your air compressor energy consumption you can address all of these challenges.
The reason is that compressors are like no other capital goods. Here, the initial investment constitutes a very small slice of their total cost of ownership. Over the air compressor's lifetime, you will spend the bulk (80%) of your money on energy.
That is why replacing an older, inefficient machine with a new one will pay off rapidly. This is especially the case during times of high energy prices or looming supply bottlenecks.
Do you want to know if it's time to replace your compressor? Have a look at the checklist and find out!
A simple calculation
Let’s say that you’ll spend €100,000 over the lifetime of a standard compressor. Only €10,000 of that total will go toward purchasing the machine. The same amount is spent on maintaining it, and the rest is taken up by the air compressor energy consumption.
It’s easy to see where your greatest savings potential is in that scenario.
However, if you increase the initial investment and purchase a highly efficient compressor, you can realize massive energy savings. For example, the GA VSDS from Atlas Copco, the world’s most efficient compressor, allows you to lower your energy consumption by up to 60% compared to conventional fixed-speed compressors.
That generates savings and makes your operation less vulnerable to fluctuating and high energy prices.
A greener production thanks to lower air compressor energy consumption
That takes care of the financial side of things. But switching to a new compressor has benefits that go beyond money. This is especially true at a time in which sustainability is becoming a priority for more and more businesses.
The reduced air compressor energy consumption doesn’t just translate into lower expenses but can also minimize a company’s emissions. This is particularly true in the area of compressing air, which is responsible for 10% of the global power use.
More efficient compressors can make a major difference in this regard. Just imagine what would happen if every business were to replace its old machines with more efficient models.
Making the switch will also allow you to meet more stringent environmental standards in the future.
An additional benefit is that your consumers now expect a more sustainable production. With efficient compressors, you can let them know that you are doing your part to protect our shared environment.
New businesses or companies that expand their production face a relatively easy decision when they have to buy a compressor. There will be an environment-friendly, energy-efficient and reliable model out there that meets their needs.
Things get trickier when the question is whether to replace an existing compressor. After all, the purchase of a new model constitutes a significant investment. However, some upgrades offer so many economic benefits that not making the switch is a lot more expensive.
So, how do you know when an upgrade not only benefits your operation but also your bottom line? Here are some things to consider:
- How old is the existing compressor and what type is it?
On average, Atlas Copco improves the energy efficiency of its compressors by 1% annually. That does not seem like a lot. Take into account that energy costs make up the largest share of a compressor’s total cost of ownership. The savings realized by a new model will quickly add up.
So does the inefficiency of older compressors. In addition, if the current compressor is a fixed-speed model, then the switch to a variable speed drive (VSD) compressor could result in much greater energy savings of up to 50% right away.
- Does your compressed air network have a central controller?
If a compressed air network consists of multiple compressors, then a central controller can select the most efficient compressor or a compressor combination. But while a central controller will optimize compressed air system performance, it will not make older compressors inherently more efficient. On the other hand, when a new compressor is added to the “fleet”, the central controller will help maximize its efficiency to benefit the entire system.
- Is there a remote monitoring system?
A remote monitoring system allows the operator to optimize the compressed air network from just about anywhere. In this case, a cutting-edge compressor may offer additional connectivity advantages over an older model. As a rule of thumb, the more advanced a compressor is, the more beneficial a state-of-the-art controller and remote monitoring system will be.
For example, these features will not be very useful in the case of a small piston compressor used for occasional tire inflation. A VSD compressor, however, will achieve additional savings when its operation can be monitored and adjusted from afar at any time.
- Did you check applicable regulations?
Governments around the globe are increasingly tightening emission standards and other environmental regulations. Older compressors may soon no longer be in compliance with existing rules. In addition, in light of the regulatory landscape, it would be beneficial to go with especially energy-efficient models when purchasing a new compressor. Hereby, you will ensure that they will meet a country’s environmental standards for years to come.
- Are there any financial incentives?
In order to meet their climate goals, countries do not only compel companies to comply with increasingly stringent regulations. They also entice them to do so by providing incentives for investing in environment-friendly technology. If you are considering whether to replace an existing compressor with a more efficient one, check whether any subsidies are available for going green.
- Did you make sure that the existing network has been checked for inefficiencies?
There are many compelling reasons to buy a new state-of-the-art compressor. Before making that investment, you should make sure that any inefficiencies in your compressed air system were not simply the result of fixable problems.
One way to do this is to commission an energy audit. As a result, you will have a very good idea where your inefficiencies can be found. Even if you do not want to spend the money on such an audit, there are things a compressed air expert can do. For example, checking the network for costly leaks.
- Is there an optimized compressor room?
A compressor room is more than the space that houses your compressor. It also determines your compressor performance and can help increase the efficiency of your compressed air network.
For example, it is important to ensure that the intake air is as clean as possible. Compressors generate a lot of waste heat. Therefor, you should ensure that the compressor room is well-ventilated or, even better, install an energy recovery system.
- Do you have an energy recovery system?
You already have an energy recovery system that turns the waste heat produced in the process of compressing air into reusable energy. In this case, you should check how compatible a new compressor would be. If such a system is not yet part of your compressed air network, then you should consider investing in one. It can generate tremendous energy savings very quickly.
Answering these questions will not only help you optimize your existing equipment, it will also tell you whether it is time for an upgrade. And, if you need additional information, please contact the experts at Atlas Copco.