New businesses or companies that expand their production face a relatively easy decision when they have to buy a compressor because 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, but, taking 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, which means that 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 to 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 but also entice them to do so by providing incentives for investing in environment-friendly technology. Therefore, as you are considering whether to replace an existing compressor with a more efficient one, you should check whether any subsidies are available for going green.
Did you make sure that the existing network has been checked for inefficiencies?
While 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, at the end of which 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 an compressed air expert can do, such as 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. Because compressors generate a lot of waste heat, you should also ensure that the compressor room is well-ventilated or, even better, install an energy recovery system.
Do you have an energy recovery system?
If you already have an energy recovery system that turns the waste heat produced in the process of compressing air into reusable energy, then 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 because 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.