The typical energy costs of running a compressed air system alone can account for almost three quarters of its lifetime costs. In addition, depending on utilisation, electrical power can account for up to 90 percent of the total costs of compressed air production. This cost has been heightened in recent years due partly to rises in electricity prices. In the five years to June 2012, Australia's retail electricity prices have risen by 72 percent.
Understanding how to reduce such compressed air associated operating costs is therefore paramount in working towards achieving optimised system efficiency.
How to get started
Reviewing the current; usage, distribution, storage and treatment of a compressed air system is the first step that should be taken in order to identify how the associated operating costs can be reduced.
Usage - determine how and where compressed air is currently used
Potential savings can initially be identified by simply observing and listing what the compressed air is actually being used for. Is the compressed air supply being used for tasks which could be performed more cost effectively without compressed air? Using a nozzle or gun for blowing or cleaning a workshop would be an illustration of an inefficient and inappropriate use of compressed air.
A more in depth look into compressed air usage would also identify opportunities for cost savings. This may include reviewing the existing and future demand for compressed air. As an example, any changes to shift patterns and production patterns will impact on the actual demand for compressed air. By measuring the systems load profile it will be possible to identify how and where compressed air system performance and efficiencies can be made.
This blog post is an extract from a published whitepaper. To download a complimentary copy of the complete whitepaper, "Optimum efficiency - the first steps to reducing your compressed air associated operating costs", fill in the form below.
Sustainability Victoria: Energy Efficiency Best Practice Guide Compressed Air Systems, 2009
Australian Bureau of Statistics: 4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, September 2012