A leakage test at a mattress making facility was done over one weekend. The facility had no main flow meter, so the testing was done using a flow meter made from a set of calibrated orifices when there was no production.
The compressed air auditor did the test, and tallied up the orifices — and quickly discovered that 50% of the total compressed air capacity was being consumed by plant leaks. The maintenance foreman, who was lurking behind the auditor, tapped him on the shoulder when he heard the number and said: “Don’t tell my boss, because I just bought another air compressor!”
Eventually the boss did find out, after reading the auditor’s report. He was a bit disappointed, but glad to learn he could fix quite a few leaks to help quickly pay for his new compressor, a new variable speed version that had very good power turndown, therefore saving the most possible when leakage is repaired.
This plant, like many others, did not know how much compressed air they were using, nor did the employees have any idea of the magnitude and cost of the plant leakage. The leakage was like secret drain on the plant profitability, stealing away profits without their knowledge.
The auditor recommended installing a main flow meter and setting up a program of leak management. The relatively inexpensive meter they purchased had a nice big display that shows the instantaneous flow, and internal memory that keeps track of the total number of cubic feet consumed.
Using these numbers, the plant personnel are easily able to track the leakage levels and calculate how much it is costing, all without having to bring someone in to do special testing. And when leaks spring up again, the employees are alerted to any changes in non-productive flow.
Using the new feedback method, and an aggressive leakage repair effort, the plant has been able to reduce the leakage percentage to just 10% of their compressor capacity, and they aren’t stopping there — they are looking for more. All told, the plant has saved $16,000 in electricity this year due to this effective work. Simple payback on their efforts is well under a year!