Trim Your Compressed Air “Waste” Line, One Pound At A Time

By: Neil Mehltretter

Anyone with a compressed air system is familiar with leaks, the energy and money losses caused by them, and the headaches associated with preventing and fixing them. What many people don’t consider though is artificial demand.

Artificial demand is almost as costly as leaks. As a matter of fact, the Department of Energy estimates that as much as 10-15% of compressed air is wasted due to artificial demand. So just what is it?

Artificial demand is simply when you are operating your system at a higher pressure than necessary. Contributing factors include:

  • Intentionally over pressurizing, thinking it will make tools and equipment work better
  • Providing excess pressure in the whole plant for the sake of one or a few users
  • Compensating for pressure loss or leaks
  • Obsolete cascading controls with wide pressure bands in multi-unit systems.

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to save some money in your plant, try this.

Lower your system operating pressure by 1 psi each week until people start complaining. For every 2 psi reduction in system operating pressure, you can save approximately 1% in compressor efficiency.

This method only addresses the first contributing factor above, but it is a great start. Take a closer look at your leaks and controls to find more savings. Start with a walk-through assessment or go right for a more detailed compressed air audit.

Have any of you had success with trying this? Let us know by leaving a comment.


6 thoughts on “Trim Your Compressed Air “Waste” Line, One Pound At A Time

  1. It almost always surprises customers to learn that up to half of the compressed air they pay to produce can be wasted. In times of leaner, more efficient operations, it is great to find an opportunity like this to reduce production costs.

  2. Just this morning I heard another example. An automotive parts maker with five compressors started at 105psig and edged the pressure down 1 or 2 psi at a time. Ended at 93 psig. The units are all connected to a master control, which made it simple. They can track the power savings and calculated $10-12,000 savings annually.

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