Kaishan USA | April 26, 2023 | Uncategorized
Air compressor assessment or audit? Which one does your company need?
A lot of confusion surrounds the topic of compressed air audits and assessments. Some accounts even use the terms interchangeably. But there are some crucial differences.
Which one is which? And what do you need for your system right now?
Two quick definitions:
You’ll want to do an assessment if you have some minor performance issues or questions about maintenance. We often recommend a walkthrough with your air compressor professional at least quarterly, if not monthly.
You need to do an audit if you have frequent unplanned shutdowns. Or if performance is less than it should be. More importantly, you’ll want to do an audit in the following circumstances:
Obviously, an audit is a bigger commitment on your part. But it can pay huge dividends in cost savings and energy consumption. The benefits include improvements in system reliability, lifespan and overall performance.
The good news is that an audit will require little, if any, interruption in your operation. Once installed, the dataloggers chug away, recording critical parameters in your system and quantifying air flow, pressure drops, humidity, temperature and energy consumption.
The readings provide a complete picture of the supply side of your operation, telling you what your compressor is doing in various circumstances. And while many operators focus on pressure, the key parameter is power usage.
This visual from an actual audit shows that air demand (black dotted line) clearly peaks in late afternoon as the company’s packaging operation swings into high gear.
When the pressure drops, does the power use respond (to keep the pressure stable)? If your system is equipped with one, does the variable speed drive keep the pressure stable? And when the pressure is stabilized, does your compressor back off or at least stay at the same level?
This graph shows peak demand, with the compressor reaching its maximum flow during those two peaks in the center.
Looking at the entire picture this way can help identify load profile problems, inefficient operation or air quality and pressure and performance problems that may not be immediately apparent to the equipment operator.
We see the lower demand when the main compressor went down. As a result, efficiency drops.
Audits reveal all kinds of important information. For example, we might discover that you had higher flow in the afternoon when your packaging operation was in full swing.
This chart documents what happened to the pressure when the company’s main compressor failed over on a weekend and the backup units came online. It clearly shows that the system was not designed with enough backup capacity.
You might see that you don’t have enough storage to account for that sudden increase in demand. And that, rather than one large super-compressor, you can use a combination of backup and trim compressors to increase the performance and reliability of your system.
You can even analyze air quality, tracking key compressed air measurements like pressure, temperature and moisture/dewpoint.
Compressed air systems lose between 30% and 50% of their volume to air compressor leaks, with poorly maintained systems running as high as 80%. (For more information, go to our recent blog on the topic, entitled, “Air Compressor Leaking? How to Find and Stop Leaks.”
Handheld leak detection devices have been available for some time and have been successful at helping companies locate the 80% of compressed air leaks that are not in the audible range.
And now there are newer, visual, acoustic imaging devices known as ultrasonic leak detection systems. They use multiple directional microphones to triangulate the position of a leak source, overlaying the leak’s ultrasonic “signal” on a video image of your plant.
Even more importantly, the device calculates the leak volume and the potential savings you can achieve by fixing it. If the leak is in a pipe 30 feet above the plant floor, for example, the system will provide a cost estimate of the annual savings. Then you can decide whether it is worth worrying about. Specifically, whether it’s worth putting up scaffolding or bringing in a lift.
The device can then do a printout you can give your maintenance people, enabling them to find and fix the leak.
Ultrasonic leak detection equipment addresses some of the limitations of handhelds mentioned above. They can screen out noise from other compressed air devices like handheld tools. And they’re less likely to misread signals reflecting off a wall or other flat surface. They can also detect leaks from sources like industrial gas lines, vacuum or steam pipes. And while that may not be your primary concern, it can lead to additional savings.
In the final analysis, an air compressor audit can produce significant benefits to your organization:
Most companies find an audit pays for itself many times over, as they record annual savings in the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The critical question: is your system sized properly (with flow or storage) to meet your highest demand? And that leads to the biggest payoff from an audit: it often provides key data you can use to justify a capital investment in new equipment.
Having an air compressor professional conduct an audit could make a big difference in the performance and longevity of your system.
Most companies do not have the skills in-house to conduct their own assessments, let alone an audit. That has become even more apparent as they find they no longer have in-house expertise to deal with advanced equipment like air compression systems.
Kaishan is fortunate to work with a nationwide network of independent distributors, who have the skills and experience to conduct air compressor assessments and audits. And can provide on-site help and consultation as needed. These factory-trained air compression experts have an investment in their local communities and can service your air compressor system without a problem.
Audits and assessments of your air compressor system are critical components of a rotary screw air compressor maintenance program. The right evaluation at the right time can save you time and money and ensure your compressed air system is operating correctly. If you need help finding a qualified professional to conduct an audit, get in touch with the experts at Kaishan. Contact us today.
A lot of confusion surrounds the topic of compressed air audits and assessments. Some accounts even use the terms interchangeably.
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