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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Compressed Air System Energy-Reduction Case Study (Part 1)

FUJIFILM Hunt Chemicals U.S.A. Achieves Compressed Air System Energy-Reduction Goals with a Three-Phased Strategy.
In an attempt to eliminate equipment failures and downtime issues associated with the plant’s compressed air system, FUJIFILM Hunt Chemicals U.S.A.’s in-house maintenance team worked with a team of faculty and students from the Tennessee Technology University Industrial Assessment Center (IAC) to conduct an assessment at its Dayton, Tennessee, facility to identify opportunities for improvement. Following the assessment, the team formulated an implementation plan that would increase the system’s reliability, reduce system maintenance costs, reduce the facility’s overall energy use, and eliminate the use of nitrogen when compressed air systems are down.

The Energy Situation
The Dayton facility was experiencing excessive downtime due to chronic air compressor failures and significant inefficiencies throughout its compressed air system. In 2007 alone, system operating costs totaled over $45,000, with maintenance and repair costs exceeding $17,000. The problems FUJIFILM was experiencing were also causing frequent interruptions in the facility’s production operations. Due to the nature of these operations, the facility could not afford to experience the downtime required to complete compressed air system maintenance. The facility was depending on a backup operating system that relied on the utilization of onsite nitrogen, which is normally reserved for processing flammable materials. While maintenance staff were certified in both quality and environmental-management systems—ISO 9001 and 14001 standards, respectively—they lacked the parts and system expertise needed to effectively support the
compressed air generating equipment.

Additional Costs Incurred with Old Compressed Air Scheme:
  • Maintenance = $1,296
  • Nitrogen Backup = $7,921
  • Repair = $7,877
  • TOTAL = $17,094
Furthermore, the frequency of equipment failures indicated inherent and systemic inefficiencies, including unutilized capacity generation and overstated requirements. These issues led the facility Maintenance Manager, Manuel Calero, and his team to partner with the Tennessee Technology University IAC, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program (ITP), to conduct an overarching assessment of the Dayton facility’s compressed air system. ITP’s IAC program provides eligible small- and mid-sized manufacturing plants with no-cost energy assessments. In 2008, a team of engineering and technology students and faculty from Tennessee Technology University visited the Dayton plant to conduct the compressed air system assessment to identify potential savings opportunities.

Developing a Baseline
The IAC and in-house maintenance team’s first step was to baseline the system’s demand-side air requirements to determine the system’s actual efficiency. The site’s original compressed air system scheme consisted of two Ingersoll Rand air compressors, located in Buildings 1 and 6.1 Compressed air in these buildings was used in a variety of processing operations that facilitated material delivery through a system of pipelines. Major uses of the air included the operation of pneumatic control devices, such as actuator valves and cylinders, and liquid transfers via air diaphragm pumps to appropriate storage tanks. These transfer rates
were critical to maintaining quality in both the process and product. To establish the baseline, the IAC team calculated the cost of air production; gathered initial measurements of energy, flow, pressure, and leak load; and estimated energy consumption, which was then correlated to the appropriate production levels. The team also conducted energy surveys with the assistance of Ingersoll Rand. This effort required connecting amp and flow meters to each compressor for five days. This allowed the facility to accurately assess energy versus standard cubic feet per minute generated and used. Results of the assessment showed that both facility compressors were set to run at 120 pounds per square inch (PSIG), but were only delivering between 90 to 95 PSIG at point of use (POU), and were, at times, dropping as low as 80 PSIG. Additional findings demonstrated that higher air use was occurring during transfers—as opposed to reactions—and that the system’s air use was cyclical, depending on production. It was also confirmed that Production Line 1 had
excess capacity. The compressed air distribution system also contained significant leaks. A concurrent review of existing system dryers indicated subpar performance and explained undue levels of moisture in the system. Most importantly, though, the data indicated that the Dayton facility could be operated using only one compressor.

Read more details in [Compressed Air System Energy-Reduction Case Study (Part 2)]

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