According to the US Department of Energy, compressed air systems account for 20 to 30% of total energy consumption for the average manufacturer. Improving the efficiency of the compressed air system is a key area where organizations can reduce their energy use. One way to achieve energy savings of 20 to 50% or more is through a holistic system improvement to the compressed air system. A holistic system improvement will help in reducing the energy that is wasted due to air leaks, poor system design and other inefficiencies.
Consultants, audits, local technicians and internal experts are some of the ways to assess compressed air system efficiency. Energy Star Treasure Hunts are another approach that has helped hundreds of organizations reduce their facilities’ energy use by up to 15%. Participants who did multiple hunts consistently found savings potential not only in their compressed air systems but throughout their operations, year after year.
Efficiency in compressed air is a result of a long list of frequently changing factors, so it is challenging to address. The Compressed Air and Gas Institute (CAGI) offers a 20-hour course on Advanced Management of Compressed Air just to introduce all the factors.
One approach that addresses all these barriers is to change from an owner/operator model for compressed air to a utility model. This approach removes the need to have on-staff compressed air specialists, leaving personnel resources time to focus on manufacturing the goods that generate revenue. The utility approach starts with the assessment of needs and the audit of the current compressed air system. Once the current system is clearly documented, data-driven recommendations are made by the experts at the compressed air supplier that will optimize both energy consumption and system reliability.
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