Over the past few years, the cost of energy has been increasing drastically. This causes many companies to question the cost effectiveness of their compressed air system and looking for ways to reduce consumption and increase energy efficiency within their plant or facility. In order to find out how to increase efficiency, the system needs an assessment or an audit. Let’s take a look at both options and find out which one is best suited for your compressor system.
What is the difference between a compressor assessment and an audit?
Cost is normally the biggest difference between the two, as a simple compressed air assessment can be a complementary, while an in-depth audit can cost $1000s and take up weeks or months to complete depending on the size of the facility and the desired outcome. Companies may be reluctant to perform an air audit due to costs associated with such services, but the final outcomes can far outweigh the initial investment. It is important to understand the benefits from assessments and audits do not end with lowering energy costs, but also improving the overall efficiency of your production, therefore positively affecting the bottom line. Not every facility needs to do a full compressed air audit or air scan, as sometimes a simple walk-the-line assessment can satisfy the needs and result in substantial energy savings. Let’s take a look at all options to gain a better understanding of which service would suit your needs and provide a satisfactory outcome.
Walk-the-line or compressed air assessment
Compressed air assessment, also referred to as walk-the-line is the simplest and most cost effective ways to gain a better understanding of where you compressed air system stands. This type of an audit does not involve any hardware or specialized loggers and can be performed by a compressed air sales professional. Such walk through consists of visual checks and is performed on the supply side or the compressor room as well as the demand side or the production floor. Some of the visual checks include inspection of the compressor, dryer, filtration, condensate drains, as well as the piping system and its configuration.
During such assessment, the compressed air professional can perform a load/unload time test on a compressor to quickly identify efficiency and utilization of the unit. Based on the results, this can uncover a need for a more comprehensive audit to further identify best solution to gain efficiency and reduce energy costs. Oftentimes, a simple assessment can identify potential air leaks, incorrect piping configuration and recommend pressure adjustment in order to decrease energy costs. Most compressed air manufacturers should offer a compressed air system assessment at no charge, making it advantageous for facilities to utilize in order to check their system’s efficiency and effectiveness. The main purpose of a compressed air assessment is to have a full understanding of the system and make small adjustments as needed in order to maximize efficiency.
Air Audits and Data Logging
Most assessment are sufficient in giving us a good snapshot of our compressed air system, however, such walkthroughs can also uncover a further need for an air audit, which oftentimes consist of data logging. Air audits utilize data loggers to measure current (amps) are are designed to provide a snapshot of the compressed air utilization within a given system. To gather needed information, data loggers are attached to the air compressor for a minimum of 7-14 days in order to observe and record any trends and demand fluctuation throughout the normal week days as well as the weekend. Results of such audits can provide a good understanding of the actual compressed air usage over a period of time, identify peaks and valleys in the air demand and help identify ways to improve the overall efficiency of the system.
Furthermore, the data from an air audit can identify and advise how to properly size an air compressor for current needs. If high demand fluctuation exists within a given system, a variable speed drive (VSD) air compressor could be offered as a solution to obtain maximum energy savings while optimizing the overall compressed air system operations. Other than helping to properly size an air compressor, air audits can also further identify leaks, especially when production is down during the night or the weekend. Depending on the size of the leak and the air compressor, the costs of wasted compressed air can add up to $1000s per year. Depending on a location and or region, some local utility companies provide their customers with benefits in a form of a monetary rebate for choosing a VSD air compressor to replace their existing system. This is normally calculated on the size of the air compressor and offered per kW or HP. Please contact your local compressed air sales professional to find out if your company would be a qualified candidate for such incentive.
Air audits typically carry a cost associated with the service and might appear as a hassle, but the benefits of understanding your compressed air system and having the ability to implement the necessary changes will far outweigh the initial troubles.
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