We wrote recently about one of the biggest challenges facing UK industry. Businesses waste almost a third of the electricity they pay for, and much of that relates to compressed air. Taskforce 10 is an initiative run by BCAS (the British Compressed Air Society) which aims to help businesses cut at least 10% of that.
How will that happen? What are the sorts of things every business using compressed air could/should be doing? Here are some ideas…
Design a better system
Sometimes, compressed air systems are designed from scratch. That’s a big advantage, because it means every individual element – from compressor to inline filtration to point of use – can be optimised to work with each other element. Often, however, compressed air systems are rather more piecemeal than that. You start with a compressor and then add elements as requirements shift and grow.
Going back to the drawing board, to ensure every element of your system is working at its best with every other element, can help identify and remove points of energy wastage.
Choose the right equipment
Every air compressor needs some spare capacity. Most compressors need filtration of some sort. But when the compressor is too big or the level of filtration is too high, you’ll pay for it in lots of ways:
- You’ll pay for compressor capability you don’t really need
- You’ll pay for additional filters
- You’ll pay in terms of running costs because more filters will demand more energy
- You’ll pay in terms of breakdown risk and early replacement, because too high a level of filtration will require the compressor motor to work harder and wear out faster
The single most important element in reducing energy costs. BCAS estimates that a 3mm hole in your compressed air system can cost you £600 a year in wasted energy. For every additional hole, crack and loose joint, your compressor will have to work harder to deliver the air pressure and flow you need.
All of that will cost money and energy.
An energy management system can help you identify where issues lie and alert you before a) they cause real production problems and b) they cost you a lot of energy and money.
A regular maintenance plan can ensure your compressed air system is working efficiently. Spotting and fixing leaks and reducing the level of wear on the motor can have a big effect the amount of energy (and money) you burn.
Perhaps you have a habit of using compressed air to blast dust and dirt off items that don’t really need it. Perhaps you leave the compressor on 24/7. That’s a particularly costly issue as, if there’s a leak in the system, you’re allowing the leak to operate 24/7 too. One of the simplest ways to reduce energy use is to break a few of the bad habits that creep into every workplace.