Solving compressed air problems for the long term
Compressed air is a major expense in many plants, costing directly for equipment and power and indirectly through reduced productivity and scrap product. When your compressed air costs become too high, or when the air system doesn't seem to be operating as efficiently as it could, finding the right solution may mean going outside your plant for expert help. Partnering with a compressed air consultant to do a plantwide air system audit can provide you with concrete data and an action plan that can save your plant hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. This article describes how such a consultant works and uses one cement plant's story to show how working with a consultant improved the company's bottom line.
Excessive operating costs, reduced productivity, and excessive capital spending on equipment are often clues that a plant's compressed air system isn't running well. But the air system's role is often ignored until it has an obvious problem that directly affects production - such as a failed compressor, water in the air supply, or low pressure problems somewhere in the process. The temptation is to address these problems by using discretionary funds to, for example, fix valves or add a compressor at a low-pressure point. Most often, this Band-Aid approach doesn't provide a long-term, economical solution because it doesn't look at the total air system and how it interacts with other processes in your plant. After all, the air system isn't merely the compressors, filters, and dryers in the compressor room that supply and treat the air and make it suitable for plant use. The air system also includes distribution components [piping and storage tanks inside the plant] and demand components [the process equipment that uses air]. To identify the air system's problems and find long-term solutions, you need to evaluate all three areas of the air system - supply, distribution, and demand.