By Ron Marshall
The compressor was an old unit made by an excellent manufacturer — it had run without trouble for decades, but times had changed. In recent months, the staff had trouble stemming the air and lubricant leaks that seemed to spring up within hours of a repair.
What was worse, over the years the power prices had increased substantially. In past years, the energy the compressor consumed wasn’t thought to be a big part of the energy costs incurred … but an energy consulting had recently measured the compressor, and found it to be running in the worst possible way in terms of energy efficiency. It was then that the maintenance manager started to take notice.
The compressor was set to modulate, and it was running with light loading; the measurements showed that it was consuming double the necessary energy consumption! This mode was acceptable in bygone days of cheap power when the compressor was new, but the decision had cost the company many hundreds of thousands of dollars in wasted energy costs over the decades!
It was time to consider retiring this old friend. New, more efficient, designs of compressors had been developed, ones that run in more efficient control modes, with more efficient screw elements, better motors and less maintenance requirements. And to help make the decision, the power company was willing to pay some of their money to help purchase a new compressor.
The new compressor was installed and immediately cut the energy consumption by more than half. The new unit was leak free and much less trouble in terms of maintenance effort, savings more costs. And the installer arranged to ensure the heat of compression stayed in the plant to provide building heat in winter months, an extra bonus.
It may be time to consider retiring your old compressor. Consider measuring your system to see now much you can save!