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Compressed Air System Reliability Upgrade

Industry: General Manufacturing

Location: Long Island, New York

Project Date: 12/01/2010

System Engineer: Matthew Gandolfo

Background: KG Power Systems was contacted by the customer to explore ways to improve their compressed air system's reliability and efficiency. After conducting a two month reliability and energy survey to record kW consumption vs. pressure and flow output, K&G redesigned and installed a new compressed air system gaining reliability, energy savings and rebates. 

Air Usage: Power its manufacturing process (sheet metal stamping, cutting, conveying and drilling)

Challenge: The existing compressed air system was unreliable, inefficient and poorly designed. The high level of condensate in the air system caused tools to fail and wear quickly. 

Symptoms:

Air Compressor: The system was relying on several different machines; one 50 HP, one 30 HP Rotary Screw, a duplex 10 HP Rotary Screw and two 10 HP Reciprocating Air Compressors. The rotary's were overworked and the recips and rotary duplex were unreliable and insufficent as backups. This caused frequent down time as the system relied heavily on one machine. 

Throughout the years, the customer would add small reciprocating air compressors as quick fixes to keep up with the air demand. One by one the small recips would fail and be replaced, this wasted money and ignored the main problem; a poorly designed compressed air system. 

Air Dryer: Only two dryers were installed and one was not operational. The one dryer could not keep up with demand and resulted in a water flooded air system. 

Filters: Undersized causing pressure drop, filled with water as the auto drain valves failed. 

Condensate Management: All drain lines from the compressors, dryers and filters were connected to each other without any check valves. This caused blackflow pressure* which damaged each of the float rains. Water was everywhere, drain lines dripped on the floor, on machines and back into the system. 

*Backflow pressure is caused when two condensate lines are joined from two different pressures. When the automatic drain valve releases on the high pressure side it floods water into the lower pressure valve and back into the system. 

Tank: Undersized, 320 gallons of storage for the entire system.

System Pressure Regulation and Pipe: Pressure regulator was too small and caused pressure drop. No drip legs in the low spots, causing water to build up, turbulence and pipe corrosion. 


Take a look at some of these common mistakes when designing a Compressed Air System

Old System - Large Pressure Drop From Inadequate System Regulator

Some Common Causes of Pressure Drop and water Build Up in a Compressed Air System

1) Pressure Drop: The air pipe coming from the main pressure regulator (on left) and feeding the entire system is only 3/4" (system is 2"). The decrease in pipe size causes significant pressure drop which wastes energy by increasing your compressor's work load. Compressors have to work harder to overcome pressure drop. This translates to higher energy cost as well as compressor service cost. 

2) Water and Oil Filled Air System: Take a look at the brown residue on the wall coming from the filter. Notice that no drain line was installed for safe and clean removal. The oil and water was left to release on the ground causing contamination. The filter is placed in the bypass and is too small for this 2" system. 

3) No Drip Leg: May be hard to see, but behind the electrical line is a low spot and should have a drip leg to drain out excess water. By adding a drip leg you avoid water build up, turbulence and pipe rot. 

Old System - Grave Yard of Broken and Inefficient Air Compressors

What to Avoid When Repairing and Servicing Your Air Compressor

As quick fixes the customer added air compressor after air compressor to keep up with the demand. The money spent on each air compressor and time spent to install each air compressor could have been spent on one energy efficient machine.

This is inefficient because when the one rotary could not keep up with demand, the other machines would start and stop throughout the day. The cycling caused the motor to burn out quickly; 2 of these machines were not functioning.

The customer noted that at peak demand the tools and machines did not get enough air and were running at less than optimal performance. 

KG Power Systems Designed and Installed a New Reliable and Energy Efficient Compressed Air System

Two 50 HP Ingersoll Rand Rotary Air Compressors with Large Storage Capacity

Two 50 HP Rotary Air Compressors Sequenced in Modulation and Large Compressed Air Storage Tank

1) 1,500 Gallon Air Storage Tank: The customer added 1,300 gallons of air storage capacity.

 This has two benefits:

First, the extra storage helps to smooth out the demand spikes by drawing down the air pressure in the tank before cycling the air compressor. This prevents short cycling of air compressors which saves tremendous amounts of energy as well as repair costs. 

Second, We worked with LIPA to award the customer a $5,000 energy rebate for increasing their air storage capacity

2 & 3) Two 50 HP Ingersoll Rand Gear Driven, Fixed Speed Rotary Air Compressors: These air compressors are sequenced in modulation to share the demand. This increases the life of both compressors. 

By adding two new machines the customer was able to significantly increase the reliability of his system by having adequate pressure and a back up air system to supply the customer's manufacturing line, eliminating issues or interuption.

High Efficiency Compressed Air Dryer

High Efficiency Compressed Air Filter and a Condensate Poly Separator

1) Ingersoll Rand NLM Module: This is a high efficiency air filter and will eliminate the customer's problem of pressure drop across filters.

 Benefits:

  • Low energy consumption
  • 8 year element life
  • Low pressure drop design
  • high air quality (Filters down to 1 Micron)

2) Ingersoll Rand Poly Separator: This is used to separate oil and contaminates from the condensate. All equipment rain lines feed into the poly separator and one drain line feeds clean water to the outside drain.

Don't dump oil into our communities drinking water and don't risk getting caught by the EPA. Fines run into the tens of thousands.

High Efficiency Compressed Air Dryer

High Efficiency Ingersoll Rand Compressed Air Dryer
Ingersoll Rand Compressed Air Dryer

Compressed Air System Pressure Regulation and Bypass

Energy Efficient System Pressure Regulator

1) Ingersoll Rand's Pace system Regulator: Correctly sized 2" pressure regulator to avoid pressure drop and maintain constant system pressure. 

2) Correctly Sized Bypass: We used 2" Copper Pipe for this bypass to avoid pressure drop. 

3) Quick Connect: This allows ease of monitoring of the comrperssed air system. When diagnosing the system our Field Techs can use this to quickly hook up Ingersoll Rand's Intellisurvey to record system pressure.

4) Drip Leg: Easy fix can help eliminate water in your compressed air system. 

 

To learn more about this project please contact:

Matthew Gandolfo: 632-342-1171 or MattG@kgpowersystems.com