Get to grips with the total cost of compressed air

Monday, October 29, 2018

Everyone knows that compressed air is one of the most important resources in the industry.

Cost of compressed air

Everyone knows that compressed air is one of the most important resources in industry. But do they understand its true cost if compressors are poorly managed or operate inefficiently? In many cases the answer is no.


The reality is that on the way from the compressor to the point of use, between 25 and 50% of your compressed air escapes. Imagine that, day in, day out – the cost soon adds up. And with energy accounting for as much as 86% of operating costs, you can’t afford to lose it.


This doesn’t have to be the case, however. The good news is that establishing how much your compressed costs to operate and then managing it more efficiently is easily achievable – allowing you to reduce energy usage and, therefore, save on costs.


Here are a few important considerations that can enable you to achieve this.


System audit

Conducting a full compressed air system audit to identify the cost of operating your compressor is the first step to understanding and improving energy efficiency. With state-of-the-art logging equipment, engineers will evaluate the operating efficiency of your system. This data is used to produce a detailed report, highlighting potential ways to generate energy savings on your site.


Leak detection

Untreated leaks lose not only air but also potential operating profit. Do you know where your compressed air system leaks are? If not, you urgently need to identify undetected leaks in your compressed air pipework. A leak detection survey identifies each and every leak - even at long distance (up to 15 m) – and in places which are not easily accessible or visible. By acting on the results you can cut wasted energy and reduce demand on installed compressor performance, which reduces compressor wear and tear.



Pressure reduction

A full compressed air system audit can also reveal unnecessarily high pressure. As a rule of thumb, a reduction of 1 bar of pressure can save 7% on electrical running costs. Further to energy savings, reducing the operating pressure can lower service costs by reducing wear and tear on the compressor, thus saving money during overhaul and achieving even faster ROI on compressor upgrades. Overall maintenance costs can also be reduced with a fewer number of compressors being required to operate the system.


Multi-compressor control

Further savings can be achieved when two or more compressors are operated via a central controller. That’s because pressure can be contained to a much narrower range to predict when a compressor should be switched on or off, and also because selecting the best combination of compressors to meet demand means off-load and part-load running of the compressors can be minimised.


Heat recovery

There is also the option of heat recovery. Nearly all the energy that is used to power an air compressor gets converted to heat. With 94% of this heat available for heat recovery you can harness this heat source to the financial benefit of your business. Recovery of this waste heat generated by an air compressor is effectively free after the initial investment, with often swift payback.


This may seem like a daunting process initially, but with the support of an experienced compressed air specialist it couldn’t be easier. And the rewards are certainly worth the effort. A few changes here and there can lead to massive savings. Just look at one of our recent customers, Haydock, which cut its energy costs by an incredible £75,000 per year!


For a comprehensive explanation of the total cost of compressed air and to learn about how to optimise your systems, check out our free guides.