Monitoring Compressed Air for Energy Optimization and Process Improvement

Emerson’s Erik Liebscher and Jan Edler shared ways that compressed air monitoring helps optimize energy usage and process performance at the 2022 Emerson Exchange conference. Here is their session’s abstract:

Emerson offers with the AVENTICS AF2 air flow sensor a cutting-edge device that monitors air consumption including data aggregation and the corresponding IIoT connectivity. We provide a preconfigured DX solution environment that aggregates and visualizes the live and historian data from any number of AF2 sensors. The scalable but still comprehensive solution offers for individual users access to improve process understanding and to deep dive on individual consumers to identify leakages and anomalies. With our internal customer from Sissach plant (CH) we present the use case approach, including hardware and software provision, current and future potential value-adds. Initially, undesired consumers were identified that sum up to 20% of the yearly compressed air consumption of the plant.

“If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it” is how Jan opened this presentation. The customer was Erik from the professional tools part of Emerson’s Commercial & Residential business. They make Ridgid, Greenlee, and Klauke tools at the Swiss plant.

Companies are trying to decarbonize in their quest for net-zero operations. Compressed air for many industries can represent 20-30% of energy consumption, and 30% of the compressed air is wasted through leaks. Jan noted that 76% of manufacturers manually test for leaks.

The IIoT-enabled AF2 flow sensor can monitor compressed air on the machines for airflow and pressure monitoring. It is an intelligent sensor with volumetric flow rate, pressure, temperature, mass flow rate, flow velocity, volume, mass, and energy. It works not only with compressed but expensive gases such as helium, argon, and nitrogen. It supports OPC-UA and MQTT communications.

You can configure the device and see the operating parameters from a PC and web user interface. Emerson’s AVENTICS team created a cloud-native containerized environment. It is a multi-tenant environment where companies can have their area for the data from all of their AF2 flow sensors.

A visualization application aggregates and displays the air consumption from all the AF2 devices and displays it by the timeframe selected. Visualization includes calculated costs and hourly consumption totals. The visualization application includes deeper dashboard analytics with automatically generated graphs and statistical tables.

A single-device dashboard gives leak indicators, flow rate ranges, time range overall consumption, and curt values for pressures, flows, and temperatures.

Erik showed a video of the Swiss plant. Some of the main battery hydraulic tools and press jaws/rings products include RIDGID P350 & RP351, Jaws & Rings for the EU market. The plant now has 25 AF2 flow sensors.

It’s an out-of-the-box solution powered over Ethernet that provides data collection and aggregation. It was an easy & fast solution, and the platform can also be extended to collect power usage data.

Some of the findings were that the weekends still had quite a high demand compared to full production runs. Leakages were discovered and stopped. Now on the weekends, the machines are removed from the air supply to prevent consumption from the more minor leakages inside the machine.

From their analysis, 20% of compressed air was lost as leaks. The project had an 18-24 month payback and an estimated reduction in carbon footprint of 68,000 kilograms. The sensors also identified compressed air bottlenecks on some machines that slowed down the production line.

Visit the AVENTICS AF2 page on for more on how this technology helps drive sustainability improvements.

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