Improving Compressed Air Energy Efficiency

Compressed air used in many manufacturing sites whether process, hybrid or discrete manufacturing process. In a Compressed Air Best Practices article, Solving Predictive Maintenance and Sustainability Challenges Through Digital Transformation, Emerson’s Amit Patel notes that some of these processes can spend a third of their energy usage generating compressed air.

 Given these costs associated with generating compressed air, it’s an area to look at for more sustainable operations. Amit explains how.

Faulty components can cause leaks through which compressed air escapes, and processes using insufficient pressure can consume more compressed air than they need. But identifying components before they fail, locating leaks early and calculating proper pressure ratios while maintaining cycle time isn’t easy without the right information at the right time.

The advancement of technology has enabled smarter pneumatic systems. Today,

…facilities can now monitor compressed air consumption in real time and immediately access the valuable data and insights needed to optimize pneumatic processes and advance approaches to maintenance. By using intelligent technologies to make better decisions and take immediate action, facilities can significantly reduce compressed air consumption, enable predictive maintenance and improve sustainability.

Amit describes digital transformation.

Quite simply, digital transformation places the right information in front of the right expert at the right time. It eliminates guessing about process parameters or waiting for equipment to fail.

For example, the:

…digital transformation of compressed air systems can be as basic as adding a smart sensor that measures consumption or as elaborate as connecting an entire line or floor.

He describes how this information drives improvements through the See, Decide & Act stages. In the See stage, a sensor:

…creates the appropriate data in a continuous, repeatable and reliable way. In pneumatic systems, this process includes capturing the acceleration and cycles of pneumatic valves and cylinder actuation as well as measuring the volumetric flow rate, pressure, temperature, mass flow rate and flow velocity of compressed air.

The AVENTICS Series AF2 flow sensor will continuously monitor flow, pressure and temperature of the compressed airflow.

In the Decide stage, edge devices such as the PACSystemsRXi2-LP industrial PC collect this data and:

…continuously aggregates that information in real time and presents trends through an easy-to-interpret visualization tool.

In the Act stage, mobility tools:

…used in this stage send notifications to specific personnel that prescribe clear, necessary actions to take based on the current state of operations. This can include which cylinders are approaching end of life, have an increase in acceleration over time or have already moved past their targeted cycle time.

Read the article for more on these tools enable predictive maintenance practices to reduce unplanned downtime and optimize energy usage to support sustainability initiatives.

Visit the AVENTICS and Programmable Automation Controllers sections on for more on how these products and solutions can help you drive performance improvements in efficiency, reliability and over sustainability.

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