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Food Processing Plants Losing Profits Due to Inefficient Compressed Air Systems

How One Food Processing Plant Saved $150.000 Annually

The majority of processing food plants use air compressors for various operations, including cylinder activation, cleanup operations, hoists, agitator drives, pump drives, enclosure cooling, dewatering and de-ionizing. But too often these daily operations are typically ignored as a source of waste.

According to the Advanced Manufacturing Office in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), American industries spend $5 billion annually on compressed air. In the case of food plants, costs are not documented, leaving compressed air systems principal candidates for waste and abuse.food_plant

Follow these 5 steps to save your food processing plant enough money by the end of the year that you'll be glad you took five minutes to read this article.

  1. Examine and analyze your compressed air system
    Note all the uses of compressed air in the plant and all the air compressors available by enlisting the help of engineers and technicians, and then:
- Record all useage points, volumes and     pressures, applying known values or best estimates. Make sure you are using the correct air compressor for your operation.
- Understand and master your air compressor system and controllers. Find out how much it costs to operate and maintain your system per year based on current expenses or estimations.
- Diagram your compressed air system, including piping, so everyone will be able to see it and help to identify and correct the deficiencies.
  1. Conduct a self-audit of your compressed air system

    There are 10 most important targets to evaluate in a compressed air system audit:

- Leak problems
- Over-pressurization
- Matched supply and demand
- Inappropriate use of piping tees
- Improperly sized piping
- Flow restrictions
- Inadequate air storage
- Inappropriate use of compressed air
- The use of electrical drives instead of air
- Maintenance of filters and separators.
  1. Estimate actions to repair deficienciesCorrect the problems that are the least expensive to repair. Using a Pareto diagram can be useful to help separate the “critical few” deficiencies from the “trivial many” possibilities that are available. For example, the Pareto diagram is shown in figure 1, where the solution for the problem is listed on the X-axis (Improvement). The Y-axis (Savings) shows the estimated savings (less costs) that would result from repairing the problem. Projects shown in the tallest bars should be choosen for implementation.
    graphic_2
    Figure 1: Pareto diagram helps to select the most effective actions.
  2. Implement the best solutionsAfter identifying the best alternatives in step three, it is time to execute. Beware that some processors postpone taking action because of time constrains, but it may be worthy to hire extra help to carry out recommended solutions right away. Every action should be measurable in terms of cost and savings.
  1. Track resultsAll solutions that were implemented should be reviewed regularly to ensure that the results are as expected, or to find out if something has changed or requires additional attention. Once recommnded changes are made, then the five-step process can be repeated to double check yourself.

If you think your company could benefit from having a compressed air system audit performed, viist this link to find a distributor in your area to inquire about scheduling an audit. You can also call our toll free number to talk with a customer service rep about locating an FS-Curtis distributor in your area: 800-925-5431.

 

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Click icons to download product literature for compressors used in the food processing industry.

Check out this article: Food industry factory saves $154.000 in annual energy costs, to see how one plant was able to save over $150.000 annually in energy costs.

Source: Oklahoma State University. Food technology fact sheet.