Atlas Copco discusses how manufacturers can harness energy efficiency to reduce costs – and their CO2 footprint – by investing in a range of products that connect, scan and optimise compressed air systems.
As Charles Darwin once said, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”
A manufacturers’ compressed air system is one of their biggest energy consumers. Gaining energy efficiency can have a big impact on costs, while helping to reduce the CO2 footprint.
In today’s modern society where a smartphone is now a necessity, it is easy to forget how quickly being connected has become a normal part of life. There are already more connected things than people in the world, so it is obvious that from an industrial machinery perspective, being connected has also become a normal part of modern industry.
The benefit of being connected is the instant visibility it creates. The Atlas Copco SMARTLink product connects a manufacturer to an easier life. SMARTLINK captures live data from compressed air equipment and translates them into clear insights. At a glance, the operator can check uptime, energy efficiency and CO2 emissions. SMARTLINK offers easy follow-up of the compressed air installation’s energy consumption, enabling a quick overview on the dashboard or a deeper dive into customised reports. Uniquely based on the actual working conditions of the machines, recommendations present real opportunities to improve the efficiency of the air system.
The other and perhaps more important benefit of connecting via an Atlas Copco SMARTLink Energy Plan is that the compressor’s data will be fed into the Atlas Copco Big Data Framework. This allows Atlas Copco to activate Diagnostic Supervision, an option that enables the specialist to spot and fix any deviations at an early stage. Based on smart algorithms and expert analysis, proactive troubleshooting keeps the manufacturers’ energy efficiency at a top level.
For those wanting to delve deeper into their compressed air system, Atlas Copco offers a compressed air auditing and leakage detection service called AIRScan.
An AIRScan energy audit includes a full survey of the compressed air net parameters: Atlas Copco usually measures energy consumption of the equipment, flow rates and pressures to get an accurate picture of the compressor room.
Measurements are performed during operation, so the manufacturer doesn’t need to stop the production. The logged information is used to simulate several energy saving scenarios: Atlas Copco’s unique and proprietary analysis software can simulate different configurations of the compressed air system. Together with their competence and experience, this gives the customer realistic savings figures.
The AIRscan report provides a clear summary for decision makers, as well as an in-depth analysis of problems and solutions for technical staff, to improve the system’s performance.
It is estimated that after five years, 20 to 30 per cent of the energy used by a compressed air system is wasted on leaks. A leak as small as 3mm can be very expensive, with an energy loss equivalent to 16 tonnes of CO2 emissions. During an AIRScan leak detection survey, Atlas Copco’s state-of-the-art acoustic camera detects 40 per cent more leaks than traditional tools, at twice the speed. The air leaks report includes the savings potential and a priority list for repairs.
Knowing the condition of compressed air equipment and being able to respond proactively is the surest way to achieve maximum availability and protect the investment. The AIRScan vibration analysis is a health check for the compressor element, gearbox, coupling, drive train and other rotating components; it is the ultimate tool to prevent expensive breakdowns.
If the compressed air contains unwanted substances like water, oil or solid particles, these may impact the quality of the final product. Furthermore, the manufacturer may need to comply with compressed air quality standards.
The AIRScan air quality analysis uses state-of-the-art tools to check the purity of the compressed air. It comes with a clear report including recommendations on how to achieve the air quality that is needed.
If the manufacturer’s compressed air system has multiple compressors or blowers, they have to be started, stopped and regulated to meet fluctuations in air demand. In a traditional system, the output pressure often exceeds the required pressure, resulting in a cost increase. Atlas Copco master controllers Optimiser 4.0 and Equaliser 4.0 offer a much smarter solution. By automating compressor operation, they increase system stability, minimise wear and achieve optimal energy efficiency.
If the air piping system has excessive leaks, is undersized or inadequately designed, an AIRnet piping system may be recommended.
An optimal piping network is sized, planned and installed to support sustainable operational excellence in the production process. Material and product design, installation and maintenance costs; flexibility and safety. They all influence the total cost of ownership and the level of efficiency in the manufacturing production process.
When looking for a high performing and effortless system that can be customised to fit any production site, AIRnet will turn out to be the best investment choice a manufacturer can make. It is a high-end aluminium system specially designed to save the money that other piping systems spend.
During air compression, heat is generated. This is diverted to the cooling system and released into the atmosphere. However, this thermal energy can be put to good use. That’s where Energy Recovery comes in. It recovers the heat so it can be used for workspace heating, hot water or industrial processes. The compressor is “creating” energy. Don’t let it go to waste!
Compressors of any age or type can benefit from the superior processing capability of the Elektronikon Mk5 Touch controller, offering the most advanced control algorithms and connectivity via SMARTLINK, resulting in improved machine control and energy savings.
To unlock the potential savings in a manufacturing site’s compressor room, try Atlas Copco’s online calculator.