How To Make Your Air Compressor More Efficient

In industrial manufacturing sectors, energy usage is a major line item on company expenses. Depending on the facility, the energy bill can comprise at least one-tenth of all costs, and sometimes considerably more.

System efficiency, both in decreasing energy to operate, and reducing lost energy too, is enormously important. Companies also have goals to run in a more planet-friendly way, so lowering CO2 emissions comes under consideration when choosing plant equipment too.

With industrial and other types of facilities that require compressed air production on-site, making that entire process more efficient is key. Here are 10 areas to examine to see whether one can increase the efficiency of air production.

How To Make Your Air Compressor More Efficient
Anglian Compressors can help make your Air Compressor more efficient

1. Look at the compressed air system design

Poorly designed compressed air systems often come from a bad initial install without a subsequent review process. Air audits are useful here to reconsider the current air system and whether efficiencies can be made.

The location of the current compressed air system, especially if it is sucking in the air into the compressor unit, is a potential vulnerability. When the spot is filled with contaminated air – perhaps from a nearby machine that’s spewing dust into the space rather than it being either filtered or expelled from the building – affects a compressor’s ability to operate effectively.

Any design for air compression needs to factor in the number of filters, compressor room layout and size, air flow systems, drainage, moisture present in the air, and more.

Anglian Compressors can advise about what improvements are possible for your business to improve compressed air effectiveness.

2. Lessen unloaded hours

Fixed speed compressors waste energy by needing to be continually running. When they’re unloaded, it can often be compared to running the heating at home with the windows wide open.

Turning off a fixed speed compressor and turning it back on when needed puts wear on the motor. Not to mention that there is also a fixed number of times this can be repeated successfully in a short period too.

Alternatively, a variable speed drive air compressor is designed not to run continuously. Instead, it is turned on to complete a specific activity (producing compressed air volume at a set air pressure) and then can be powered down again, or will power down automatically,  when there is no demand. This cuts the machinery running time, so wear and tear is reduced, plus it saves energy too.

3. Don’t operate at a higher-pressure band, if not needed

Some fixed speed air compressors are set to a higher-pressure level because they’re run using a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy. As stopping and unloading the compressor requires time, some companies will operate at a higher pressure band than they need in most cases.

It’s worth noting that dropping one bar of pressure cuts energy usage by up to 7 percent. Double-check your applications/machinery to verify the minimum air pressure they require to operate well. It may surprise you to learn that the minimum pressure is often lower than how the compressor is currently set.

4. Don’t waste the heat available from Compressing air 

Many air compressors generate heat as part of their operation. This is known as waste heat.

The heat can unnecessarily increase the internal temperature at the facility. Therefore, heat recovery is important. However, it should be recovered and harnessed. Utilise the heat in water systems to reduce energy usage there. Additionally, space heating systems can use it as well.

Doing this requires some adjustments, but it will lower energy costs outside of the air compression room and reduce the carbon emissions of your business too.

5. Use a more energy-efficient air compressor

Air compressor technology has seen several significant advancements over the last few years.

The most noteworthy is the switch to variable speed drive (VSD) systems, which allow for shorter runs, and powering down or lowering the energy usage of the compressor, when not in use. A 35% energy saving was initially achieved with first-generation VSD compressors instead of fixed speed technologies.

Furthermore, Atlas Copco, whilst being the originator of this new variable speed technology, has not stopped there. They’ve subsequently released VSD+ compressors with a 50% energy saving, and the latest VSDs range has achieved up to 60% energy reduction.

6. Get a professional’s opinion with an Air Audit

An Air Audit from Anglian Compressors will help isolate where inefficiencies reside in your current compressed air systems.

Whether that’s an old or inefficient compressor increasing the energy bill, heat recapturing, or a better design for greater efficiency, we’re here to help.

7. Don’t forget the maintenance

Maintenance is sometimes seen as a necessary evil, but we feel this is the wrong way to look at it.

What maintenance really does is increase and maintain the efficiency of your existing equipment, resolve misconfiguration, and potentially spot and lead to replacing worn parts near their failure point.

Cutting corners on maintenance is never a good idea, even when money is tight.

Cutting corners on maintenance is never a good idea
Cutting corners on maintenance is never a good idea

8. Avoid compressor contaminants

With poor nearby air quality, particulates can get inside the compressor and potentially the motor too. Even the very best filters aren’t perfect at removing contaminants, and can get clogged up before being replaced.

Also, depending on the facility, moisture might be an issue. Additionally, with oil-filled compressors, too little or excess lubrication causes a variety of issues too.

9. Internal pressure drops

An overworked air compressor, or one running at the maximum pressure setting, can experience internal pressure drops. This can result in an overworked compressor trying to compensate for this, and failing to do so.

A poorly designed pipe system may be at fault. Unclean filters that haven’t been changed frequently enough, moisture reaching the internal machinery, or a longer air intake transit passage can be contributing factors.

10. Reduce air leaks

Older air compressors that have “seen better days” are frequently responsible for air leakage. While the leakage opening might seem minuscule, just a couple of millimetres for example, the lost air and subsequent cost can be considerable.

Running the compressor and testing for leaks is the best approach to finding and fixing air leaks.

The most efficient approach to verifying whether your current air compression systems are inefficient is to get an air audit. An air audit from Anglian Compressors will confirm how much more efficient the compressed air system could become, and whether a replacement air compressor is the answer, or something with a quick fix.

Do you need a team of professionals to help make your Compressed Air more efficient? If so, get in touch with Anglian Compressors today.