The Challenges / Issues
After adding a new CNC machine to their timber processing division, Fantastic Furniture had significant compressed air issues with their existing compressed air system. The new CNC Machine was continuously dropping out with low pressure alarms and the remainder of the factory was experiencing pressure loss. This was stopping the commissioning of the CNC machine and causing production delays within the timber joinery side of the factory.
In order to solve the problem, Fantastic Furniture called in Focus Industrial, who recently helped with a new high efficiency compressed air restructure to support their new Lean Processes factory reconfiguration. The main issue causing the CNC to cut out on low pressure was the fact that the old Atlas Copco compressors that were running the factory for 20 years were now undersized in flow and pressure for the condition the compressed air system was in.
With a large, compressed air system and many different sections to the reticulation system, Focus Industrial recommended getting an Independent complete compressed air system audit. This would give the best value in facts and figures of the health the existing compressed air system was running and correctly instruct all parties on what needed to be undertaken to resolve the issues.
After a 2-week audit with measuring equipment the findings were far more significant than initially thought by Focus and Fantastic. With a total nonproductive air demand (Air Leaks) of nearly 30% of all compressed air produced, Air compressors fighting each other with incorrect pressure settings and compressors that were Fixed Speed, old and inefficient, A multistage upgrade was required to resolve the issues.
The solution was broken into two parts; Compressor upgrade with ancillary equipment and the leak management program.
Air Compressor Upgrade – The results of the program instructed on removing the 20-year-old Atlas Copco GA37 Fixed Speed compressors and installing a new Variable Speed Drive (VSD) 45kw Compressor with increased air storage from a 2100ltr vertical air receiver, New Refrigerated Dryer, and inline Pre and Post filtration. This included replumbing the compressor area with Unipipe aluminum compressed air piping for added strength and improved air flow.
Air Leak Repairs – With the audit finding that more than a quarter of the compressed air being produced as feeding air leaks, this was a vital part of the upgrade repairs. Focus Industrial undertook a leak reduction exercise firstly combing through the factory work benches and replacing any of the leaking quick connect fittings, air hoses, push fit fittings and leaking valves.
Further stages will also be taken to find micro leaks and continue reducing air leakage. A recommendation has also been put forward for a permanent flow metering device to the added near the compressor location which will give a real time readout of the volume of compressed air being used at any time including Non productive air demand. This will be set as a KPI for their maintenance crew to keep this air leaks under 5% to maintain high efficiency within their compressed air system.
The results and figures
Compressed air energy audit – $5,300.00
The cost of the upgrade and leak repairs – $64,800.00
This gave Fantastic Furniture an excellent Return on Investment case to work with and gave clarity and a certain outcome to work with as a result of the doing the compressed air audit. Further expansion and additional machines were also considered and allowed for with the upgrade.