Centralization or Decentralization of the Compressor System

Dimensioning Compressor Installations Compressed Air Wiki Compressors

There are several factors that influence the choice between one large centralized or several smaller decentralized compressors to meet a given compressed air requirement. Factors that are taken into consideration include the cost of a production shut-down, guaranteed availability of electrical power, loading variations, costs of the compressed air system and the available floor space.

Why would you choose a centralized compressor installation?

should you centralize your compressor system?

A centralized compressor installation is in many cases the solution of choice, as it is less expensive to run and maintain than several, locally distributed compressors. Compressor plants can be efficiently interconnected, thereby resulting in lower energy consumption. A central installation also involves lower monitoring and maintenance costs as well as better opportunities for recovering energy. The overall floor area required for the compressor installation is also minimized. Filters, coolers and other auxiliary equipment and the common air intake can be optimally dimensioned. Noise reduction measures will also be easier to fit.

A system comprising several, different sized compressors in a central installation can be sequence controlled to improve efficiency. One large compressor may have more difficulty meeting large variations in the compressed air requirement without losing efficiency. For example, systems with one large compressor are often supplemented with a smaller compressor for use during periods such as a night shift or on weekends. Another factor worth considering is the impact that starting a large electric motor has on the mains supply.

Why would you choose a decentralized compressor installation?

A system with several decentralized compressors can also be the preferred choice for certain applications. It involves a smaller, simpler compressed air distribution system. A disadvantage of decentralized compressors lies in the difficulty of inter-regulating the compressed air supply and in maintaining a reserve capacity. Modern compressors with fully-integrated compressed air conditioning equipment (dryers, filters etc.) and with high-performance silencing measures can be installed at the worksite, thus reducing compressed air distribution costs and eliminating the need for a separate building or an extension to the separate compressor room.

Decentralized compressors can be utilized to maintain the pressure in a system with a large pressure drop if the intermediate processes temporarily draw too much air. An alternative with extremely short peaks of air consumption is to solve the problem by positioning buffers (air receiver) in strategic locations.

A unit or building normally supplied from a compressed air plant and which is the sole consumer of compressed air during specific periods can be sectioned off and supplied with its own decentralized compressor. The advantage of this layout is that it avoids "feeding" any leakage in the remaining part of the system and that the localized compressor may be adapted to the smaller requirement.

Read more on the different aspects of dimensioning compressor installations below.

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