When thinking about the energy costs that a factory will endure, you might often think about electricity, water, and gas. However, compressed air systems, if not properly set up, can end up costing thousands in wasted energy each year. In fact, many people view compressed air as the unofficial “fourth utility” because of the impact it can have on the energy consumption of an operation.
If you take a close look at the compressed air system in your operation, there are probably several opportunities for you to improve the entire plant’s energy efficiency which could save thousands of dollars each year. Additionally, you could also reduce the factory’s operating costs while also reducing the carbon footprint, reducing maintenance costs and improving confidence in the safety and efficiency of the compressed air system.
The Biggest Factors
Heat loss is perhaps the most significant culprit when it comes to wasted energy within a manufacturing plant. In even the most efficient systems, an estimated 10-15% of the energy is delivered through the compressed air. When your system is full of leaks and flaws, the energy waste adds up to detrimental costs that can hurt the factory’s bottom line significantly.
Along with heat loss, leaks and artificial demand (using compressed air when low-pressure solutions would be better) can also hurt the operating efficiency of the compressed air system. It may seem insignificant, but even a tiny ¼” leak in the line can cost the facility thousands of dollars in energy costs each year which is why it is crucial you ensure your line is free of any leaks or malfunctions.
The Real Costs
Decades ago, when power was much more inexpensive than it is today, most manufacturers paid no attention to small flaws in the system. However, with rising energy costs, every cent counts to ensure the plant is optimally running.
For a clearer picture of how energy waste can add up, here’s an example: if a plant is running a 200-horsepower compressor at 3 cents per kWh for 24 hours a day, they could expect the operating costs to be a little over $40,000 per year. However, with the rising costs of energy, if the price is increased to 8 cents per kWh, the annual operating costs soar to over $110,000. A few cents here and there may seem insignificant, but when added up, the difference is scary.
This is why it is vital that you determine your operating costs and find new ways to boost your operating efficiency. Do a walk down your line and run some tests and if there is a malfunction in the compressed air system, you should be able to correct it swiftly.