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Reducing Cost and Environmental Impact of Your Compressed Air System

March 10th, 2014

It is a well-known truism that in the construction and manufacturing industries, compressed air is the fourth utility.  Costing each business which uses a compressed air system roughly a 10th of its overall bills cost, it is arguably imperative that businesses in construction and manufacturing examine their air compression systems to ensure they are as efficient as they can be.  Alongside this, government regulation states that companies should be doing more to reduce their carbon emissions, and by reducing waste, this will also help to reduce cost.

Compressed Air Systems

Basic compressed air systems are straightforward enough to understand. In essence, the system delivers a pressurised stream of air to its target at a regulated level. It does this by taking air in and running it through a control system which compresses it to the required pressure before passing it through to receiver, which stores the cooled, compressed air until it is required.  The final stage is that the compressed air is funnelled through to the target area.  Basic systems such as this are widely available and can help with a number of areas of manufacturing: pneumatic tools (drills, hammers etc.), air powered lifts, and more.

What Does Waste Come From?

Although air compressors are relatively straightforward to understand, compressing air is a task which is arguably fraught with potential cost and environmental problems. The main one is cracks.  A potential crack or rupture in any part of the system could facilitate a leak of air, costing your business a serious amount and also meaning you’ll need to use more electricity to continue producing the same amount of air, which is a significant issue for your business’s environmental rating.

Preventing the Problems

If you want to prevent this from happening, there are some crucial things to remember about your system.  First, remember that the gage controlling air pressure reflects how close to maximum ability, not how close to perfect it is.  Therefore, there’s generally never any need to run the system at 100 percent.  By lowering the pressure to 90 percent, you’ll only lose a fraction of your productivity but ensure that much less compressed air is lost.  Similarly, ensure the funnel you use to release the compressed air is tightly fitted.  Check this when your premises are quiet after closing hours so that you can hear if there is a leak.

Ultimately, well-maintained systems only waste 5-10 percent of air, while poorly-maintained ones waste up to 50 percent – it’s therefore in your best interests to reduce waste, both for financial and environmental reasons.

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