Compressed-Air System Optimization

One of the key elements to improving energy efficiency is identifying the significant energy uses and analyzing the potential for reducing their energy consumption without reducing the quality of product. Based on the “do more with less” principle, it has been shown that by performing a root cause- and system efficiency analysis, optimizing a compressed air system yields quite the positive feedback. The benefits of undertaking both preventive and corrective actions do not comprise improving overall system efficiency and productivity exclusively, but also help enterprises deal with the price volatility of inevitable energy costs.

Air compressors are considered one of the most unnoticed energy consumers in a given facility. Yet, much like steam systems, using compressed air is one of the most significant plant processes and represents a vital element of a given system. Conducting proper management of a compressed air system has proved that significant amount of energy can be saved, while at the same time achieving better product quality and decreasing downtime. There are several standard steps commonly taken to optimize these systems, such as leak tests, pressure adjustment, system modification in terms of components, switching to a different type of cooling system or cold air intake to the air compressors.  Optimizing compressed air systems usually requires a systems approach i.e. not only addressing individual system components, but rather concentrating on the system as a whole. Based on the ISO 50001’ principles, this optimization provides an opportunity for system assessment for alternative solutions and identifies the possibilities for their implementation based on the current and future operating conditions and parameters, the maintenance regime, the process production needs and quality of product required, the economics, technicalities and other aspects.

In 2018 and 2019, several Compressed air systems optimization trainings were held in the Republic of Macedonia, within the framework of the project “Catalyzing market transformation for industrial energy efficiency and accelerate investments in best available practices and technologies in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, in cooperation with UNIDO. The Expert Training was based on the latest information, results, practices and knowledge of experienced national and international experts. The Training consisted of both theoretical and practical part. The theoretical part gives the opportunity for the participants to gain in-depth knowledge in the operating regime of the compressed air systems and identify the opportunities for improving any and all significant inefficiencies. The practical part gives the participants the opportunity to apply the gained knowledge in practice in companies and facilities in the country.

The UNIDO Compressed air system optimization (CASO) capacity building and implementation programme consists of three elements: an EXPERT Training, USER Training, and a VENDOR Workshop.

The CASO User Training is targeted to facility engineers, operators and maintenance staff of enterprises, equipment vendors and service providers and it is designed to teach how to assess industrial compressed-air systems, identify opportunities for performance improvements and achieve energy/cost savings through proper operation and controls, system maintenance, and appropriate uses of compressed-air.

The CASO EXPERT Training is an intensive training delivered by leading international Compressed-Air System Optimization experts to national energy efficiency experts, service providers, equipment vendors and industry engineers.  This training provides more in-depth technical information on assessing performance, troubleshooting and making improvements to industrial compressed-air systems.  This training also introduces basic principles for energy efficient design of compressed-air systems and how to successfully sell compressed-air systems improvement projects to management.  National EE experts are trained through classroom, on-the-job and coaching by international CASO experts and equipped with expertise, skills and tools (including measuring equipment) required for providing the following services:

  • Technical assistance to enterprises on compressed-air systems energy assessment and identification, development and implementation of optimization projects
  • Conducting CASO USER training and coaching facility personnel for pump systems energy assessment and optimization

The CASO VENDOR Workshop is targeted to local compressors and related equipment vendors, suppliers and manufacturers. The workshop is designed to introduce these key market players to CASO techniques and service offerings. The objectives are to:

  • Prepare manufacturers, vendors and suppliers to participate in reinforcing the system optimization message of the UNIDO project with their industrial customers;
  • Assist manufacturers, vendors and suppliers in identifying what will be required to reshape their market offerings to include or reflect a system services approach.