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Traditionally, end users look at their operations holistically. They are not concerned with the day-to-day operations of just one machine but rather with how the factory operates – as a whole.
Compressed air is typically consumed in these factories in large amounts, across various applications and machinery. When looking to deploy efficient air management systems, just where do you start?
This is where SMC comes in said SMC’s energy conservation group manager, Bill Blyth.
SMC’s AirMaS Technology and the Air Management System (AMS) can be the right tool to provide you the compressed air efficiencies on existing plant machinery and processes, that you require.
“We take into consideration the two elements of compressed air energy. Namely, pressure and flow. This improved air management can be installed on existing lines to assist with controlling energy,” said Blyth.
SMC Corporation ANZ has a team of engineers who works with customers to establish firstly how much air is being used, the profile of energy consumption and what target they would like to achieve.
Bill and the team will then install monitoring and reapply more efficient compressed air energy using various standard SMC componentry and technology to get as close as possible to the desired target across each application.
An AMS Success Story
One such success story is that of a food producer in Victoria. They made use of a high-speed filling and case packing machine which required large volumes of air consumption. Upon analysis, an analysis of the current air flow and pressure energy was taken by installing pressure, flow and power monitoring.
It must be emphasised that these tests were conducted during actual production and as such, the results were in ‘real time’ without affecting site operation. Typically, the technology is initially introduced would alongside the existing air control to ensure that there is no interruption to production whilst SMC commissions the applications for optimum results.
“When you analyse the air consumption profile graphs it becomes very obvious where the inefficiencies lie and where you are using much more than you need,” says Bill. Typically, your readings will indicate:
- Excessive flow rate
- Artificial demand
- Rapidly changing flows
- High pressure drops
- Non-productive consumption
This result identified to the customer an excessive consumption and demonstrated the ability to reduce the existing 700kPa (pressure) to a target of 500kPa and reduce the flowrate by around 30 per cent. “Using standard SMC componentry, correctly applied and configured to provide the AMS delivers value and a wealth of data to the customer. Data which helps them to achieve and (importantly) retain the saving and reduce bottom line when it comes to compressed air energy usage.”
A Recipe for Success
There are a few standard components which need to be in place says Bill. “These include strategically placed monitoring and compressed air pressure and volume control devices and technology. This forms the basic bones of the AMS system” he continues.”
“From here, we test the compressed air profiles and through adjustments we are able to accurately match the most efficient air profile using standard componentry to the existing system to deliver the desired outcome.”
Bill highlights the key factors that Energy Conservation Team considers during this process to establish a healthy system is:
- Controlled flow and Pressure
- Most Efficient Demand Profile
- Eliminate Artificial Demand
- Continual Waste (Leakage) Monitoring
By running the live trials with the customer, an Air Management System was configured (from standard components) to suit the factory and machine layout. SMC is encouraging customers to get in touch to assess their current air consumption and look at ways to improve their savings.
Compressed air plays an indispensable role in the food and beverage sector and is used in a broad range of applications including product transportation and storage; packaging, filling and capping; cooling, spraying and cleaning; and fermentation and aeration.
However, while they are critical for all modern food and beverage manufacturing facilities, if not used appropriately, compressors can actually have a detrimental effect.
Contaminants emitted by compressors can affect food safety standards.
“Generally, there are three types of contaminants in compressed air – oil, moisture, and particles,” said William Chan, product manager at CAPS Australia. “Oil and many types of particles are detrimental to consumers’ health while moisture can lead to the growth of bacteria, either in equipment or the end product.”
Chan advises that food and beverage manufacturers who want to avoid air quality problems should follow a two-step process.
The first step is to select an appropriate compressor. There are two types of compressors on the market, oil-lubricated compressors and oil-free compressors.
“With oil-lubricated compressors you actually inject oil into the compression process, which means you actually pass this contaminant (lubricant) downstream. If the compressed air isn’t ever in contact with any of the end product, in theory food makers can use this technology without risk,” said Chan.
However, in applications where the compressed air does come into contact with the end product, oil-free compressors should be used. “Oil-free compressors do not inject any lubricants in the compression process, which means we can safely say that one of the three contaminants has been reduced,” said Chan.
The second step to ensuring air quality is in the correct choice of drying technology, which is the means by which moisture is removed from compressed air. “Once again, if the compressed air does not come into contact with the end product then the user can potentially use a refrigeration dryer instead of a desiccant dryer,” said Chan.
In applications where the compressed air does come into contact with the end product, a desiccant dyer is the best option.
CAPS Australia offers both lubricated compressors and oil-free compressors. All of these oil-free models comply with the ISO 8573-1 Class 0 2010 standard. This Class 0 certification is the most stringent class of air quality and certifies that the air discharged by the compressor is free of added oil aerosols, vapours and liquids.
In addition, the company supplies refrigeration dryers, desiccant dryers, as well as filtration products, storage products and nitrogen generators. As Chan explained, nitrogen is used as a preservation agent, for example inside packets of chips or wine bottles, to maintain freshness and preserve taste.
Asked how CAPS Australia can help food and beverage manufacturers decide what’s right for them, Chan said the company offers site audits as well as energy audits. They can help fitout businesses with the right equipment and guide them with regard to energy-saving potential.