Compressed Air Tips for Reduced Demand Periods

Factory trained and certified technicians servicing an air compressor.

An efficient, reliable compressed air system is designed to meet your specific demand. Reductions in operation, such as those that have occurred for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, can have a negative impact on the performance and life of your equipment. Our friends at Gardner Denver recently published best practice recommendations to address reduced operation and demand on rotary screw compressors. Below are some of the highlights.

Watch for Early Warning Signs

Air compressor packages that run at a reduced capacity or reduced hours due to a curtailed production schedule should be monitored closely for any adverse effects. Detecting early warning signs of operating conditions that can be harmful to compressor reliability is essential to avoid damage to the equipment, reduce the total cost of ownership and prevent unplanned downtime. Early warning signs include:

  • Extra wear on controls
  • Increased oil consumption from frequent blowdowns or foaming oil
  • A trend of increasing water ppm in the lubricant from either lower temperature operation, running for extended periods off load or excessive starting and stopping
  • Damage to air treatment components or end product from oil carryover

Reducing the Risk of Damage

There are several ways to minimize the risk of damage from increased load/no-load cycling. Performing an oil analysis and making the right adjustments can help you keep your system running efficiently and ready for when demand returns to its normal state. Consider the following tips to maintain reliability and prevent unforeseen repairs:

  • Widen the control pressure band to reduce cycles and blowdowns
  • Eliminate system piping bottlenecks to decrease control pressure instability
  • Add wet storage to increase cycle times and improve energy efficiency
  • Install a higher temperature mixing valve to increase the compressor discharge temperature
  • Sample the oil more frequently to diagnose trends that result in higher risk of damage, such as increasing water ppm or oil degradation

Lewis Systems’ certified technicians are available to help you implement these strategies at your earliest convenience. We also realize many plants currently in operation are trying to avoid having outside vendors in their facilities. If this is the case for you, we’re happy to provide troubleshooting support over the phone or through video chat.

Compressed Air Audits: Making Decisions Based on Data

air audit equipment

The main purpose of an air compressor system audit is to provide a comprehensive evaluation of current case operating practices and system performance from the perspective of the system’s supply side. The study and analysis are based on measurement and profiling of the production and process demand. Data is compiled and used to model current case operating costs as well as potential solution performance and the resulting cost of improvements to determine their financial feasibility.

Data Collection

The air audit evaluation is conducted with the intent to gather as much real-time data as possible. Flow (scfm), pressure (psi) and power (kW) are measured and data is logged using thermal mass flow transmitters, pressure transmitters and amp or kW transmitters. Transmitter output is recorded on data loggers at a specific polling rate and later downloaded to a computer for analysis and modeling.

Reporting

Once the data is collected, an analysis can provide the basis for power validation and solution modeling. The first report below is a tabular summary of information gathered for a system. This table provides high level attributes and the basis for improvements. Comparing both the Dynamic Efficiency (current case to benchmark) and the energy cost (current case vs. proposed) will help determine the potential and feasibility of system enhancements.

cost saving analysis for compressed air systems

Once the high-level attributes and potential improvements have been reviewed, air audit professionals can dig a little more in depth and look at the actual options available to the customer. Each option should be compared with current case costs in a System Performance Comparative as shown below. This table documents existing equipment and recommendations for future energy savings.

air audit cost analysis

Cost Analysis

The last piece of information that really brings an air audit together is the cost analysis. What is the payback period on making any recommended changes and how much money will actually be saved over a period of time? Below is a graph of a 10 Year Total Cost Analysis for a customer who had three options based on the findings of a recent audit. This graph allows you to see not only the operating cost spread over 10 years, but also shows the payback timeframe for each option if it was to be implemented. Seeing the financial implications in this way allows you to determine if the cost savings are great enough to warrant changes, and if so, to and select the option that makes the most sense for your business.

improvements for air compressor efficiency

A compressed air system audit can provide all the data and modeling that a customer needs to identify opportunities for improvements in air compressor efficiency and cost savings. The certified air compressor technicians at Lewis Systems are experienced in performing compressed air audits and providing cost saving solutions. If you have any questions about air audits or would like to speak to us about having one completed, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Air Compressor Technology Advancing the Industry

gardner denver iconn

Industrial compressed air advancements are making systems more productive, convenient and efficient. One of the most promising areas of innovation for the compressed air industry is connectivity and data analysis. The International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts that by the end of 2020, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) network will consist of more than 29 billion connected devices. Although compressor manufacturers are still trying to figure out the best ways to leverage this connectivity, two growing trends are Data Analytics and Predictive Maintenance.

Gardner Denver Leading the Way

Gardner Denver’s newest monitoring solution, iConn, is a predictive service that provides a detailed view of system performance so businesses can stay ahead of potential issues. iConn sends machine health data directly into the Connected Customer platform, a secure cloud-based database solution. Data from iConn is continually analyzed and consolidated. Trends and visual cues can quickly provide a snapshot of your compressor’s health. Alerts for faults, warnings, alarms and exception-based notifications are viewable from within the platform and can also be sent out as emails or texts.

Benefits of Gardner Denver’s iConn:

  • Real-time monitoring and alarms
  • Cloud-based visualization and data analysis
  • Remote monitoring of real time performance
  • Data analysis available on an app
  • Three levels of services to meet specific needs
  • Ability to plan for scheduled maintenance

The iConn system uses a GSM cellular network, so there is no need to connect to the plant network, which could cause possible disruptions. iConn’s standard data connectivity is a free service that comes installed on all new Gardner Denver CompAir compressors and can be retrofitted for existing compressor installations.

Using the iConn solution, along with Gardner Denver’s Connected Customer online portal, allows businesses and their supporting distributors to gain a true 360-degree view of their compressed air equipment. The ability to create and track service history, predict upcoming service schedules, access oil sample reports and help reduce downtime with advanced failure warnings all add to the value of this comprehensive and easy-to-use platform.

DFH Haus GmbH, a prefabricated homes manufacturer in Germany, uses the iConn smart flow management tool to monitor plant data, such as pressure, temperature and energy consumption remotely, so they no longer have to visit installations in person. DFH receives alerts and error messages via email so they can respond to issues quickly.

See if iConn is Right for You

Performing maintenance on an air compressor as soon as it’s due to be serviced is one of the best ways to maximize the machine’s efficiency, uptime and longevity. Lewis Systems is a certified Gardner Denver partner and can set up and service your iConn and Connected Customer platforms to help you get the most out of your compressed air equipment. Contact us at 800.222.4553 to speak with a professional about your connectivity needs.

Powerex: Advancing the Medical Pipeline and Source Equipment Industry

With medical gases currently being used for so many clinical applications in the healthcare industry, improving the reliability and efficiency of medical gas equipment is critical. A leak or failure can have serious health implications on the patients who need these products to function consistently. Powerex, “the leader in pure air technology,” is continually innovating to improve their medical gas pipeline, source equipment and associated components to better serve hospitals, healthcare facilities and patients.

OSHPD Seismic Certification

Powerex Manifolds, Enclosed Rotary Tooth with VFD (medical and laboratory) and Enclosed Scroll (5, 7.5 and 10 HP) systems are now OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) certified. To receive the OSHPD certification, equipment must be tested and verified for structural integrity, instrumentation functionality and component performance during an earthquake. Powerex is the first medical gas system manufacturer to test and certify manifolds. Many of their other products are already seismic certified for structural integrity.

Redesigned Medical and Laboratory Systems

Powerex has updated their 2–5 HP Open Scroll Medical and Laboratory Systems to save space and allow for easy maintenance of their reliable, energy efficient equipment.

Major updates include:

  • Smallest footprint on the market: Up to 39% less than the leading competitor
  • All systems designed to fit through a 36″ door
  • Low maintenance and easily serviceable
  • Patented Service Slide
  • Basemount extends 20″ from the rack
  • Energy efficient technology

Quiet Oil-Free Enclosure Systems

Powerex’s trademarked Oil-Free Enclosure Systems offer the lowest noise levels in the industry. Each system is packaged in a rigid steel frame with powder coated panels and lined with sound-deadening insulation. The low noise levels and small footprint allow for convenient installation in healthcare facilities at the point of use.


Powerex Enclosed Claw Vacuum Systems

New Medical Claw Enclosed Systems

The industry-first Powerex Enclosed Claw Vacuum Systems also offer the lowest noise levels on the market, allowing flexibility for installation at the point of use. The claw pump design is extremely efficient, and because there is no contact between the rotors and the cylinder wall, maintenance and parts replacement costs are minimized.


Powerex MedTouch Series Alarms

New Digital Medical Gas Alarm Panels

With the introduction of MedTouch Series alarms, Powerex now offers the most comprehensive LCD touch screen panels on the market.

  • Text or email alarm notifications can be sent to multiple addresses
  • Customized emergency instructions can be set up to display for each alarm signal
  • Ethernet modules allow secure remote user access and interface abilities with building automation systems

Interested in Powerex Products?

Lewis Systems is a proud installer and servicer of Powerex medical products. Their advancements in medical equipment help us better serve healthcare providers and improve patient care in our area. For questions about Powerex or other medical air, gas or vacuum products, contact us at 800.222.4553.

Maximizing the Energy Efficiency of Your Compressed Air System

Air compressors are some of the most demanding energy users in a plant. In fact, over the life of an average compressor, the energy cost often exceeds the equipment cost several times over. Improving your air compressor’s energy efficiency can make a huge impact on your bottom line. Here are a few ways to reduce the cost of producing compressed air and maximize your energy savings:

Request a Compressed Air Energy Audit

Having a professional perform an air audit to measure your current flow rates, energy consumption and operating pressure can help identify significant cost savings. Often, evaluating things like how your compressors are controlled or whether you need extra storage can improve compressor efficiency. Air audits should be performed on a regular basis and any time changes have been made in your plant that may impact your compressed air system.

Find and Repair Air Leaks

Leaks in your system cause an unnecessary load on compressors, which inevitably requires more energy and maintenance. Without a proper air leak maintenance program in place, leaks in your air compressor could account for 20–30% of your total air demand and cost you thousands of dollars a year in wasted energy. Some leak surveys have actually enabled customers to completely shut down extra compressors.

Reduce Air Pressure

Less pressure = less energy. It’s that simple. According to the Compressed Air & Gas Institute, for every 2 psi reduction, you can save approximately 1% in energy consumption. Make sure your system hasn’t been set at a higher pressure than is necessary or requiring additional pressure as a result of leaks.

Maintain Your Equipment

Compressed air equipment is a big investment. Avoiding regular maintenance can lead to inefficient operation, costly repairs and even equipment failure. Following a consistent preventive maintenance schedule is a smart way to protect your investment and maximize savings. Changing filters and lubricants and having your equipment inspected regularly will keep it running efficiently and reduce your total cost of ownership.

Put Wasted Heat to Work

Compressing air naturally generates heat. Generally, this heat is wasted, but the majority of it can actually be recovered and used for operations like heating a warehouse or providing hot water for cleaning.

Use Your Energy Wisely

Too often, compressed air is used for tasks that could be completed more economically, such as using it as a blower to clean up or as a fan for cooling. Make sure your staff is educated on proper and improper uses of compressed air.

At Lewis Systems, we want to make sure you’re getting the most efficient performance from your system. Our factory trained service team can perform everything from ultrasonic leak detection to an in-depth Energy Audit and Air Study. We also offer maintenance, service plans and compressor repair services to ensure your equipment is operating at peak efficiency. To discuss your energy needs, contact us at 800.222.4553.