These are the things one should know about the compressed air process:

1. Compressed air is really wonderful, it can do so many things that are more difficult to do by other means in a production environment (Consider for e.g. a vacuum generator).

2. Anybody can be an ‘expert’ doing compressed air, it is not all that difficult to get great results (e.g. using it for vacuum generation, blowing, etc.).

3. But the fact is, you should limit use of compressed air because it is very expensive. (using a pump for vacuum is probably 10 % of the cost of using compressed air).

4. Then comes the catch 22, once a client is locked into using compressed air inappropriately, there is a whole industry ready to help (with more efficient but expensive technologies like VFD, big air receivers etc.

5. However, the cost of ownership of buying an air compressor is really only 10% of it. The maintenance cost is also only another 10%, but the typically unmeasured energy cost is 80% of it , and that’s the problem.

6. Plus, the native efficiency of compressed air is only 10% at best (work in to work out). Most compressed air systems do not even get to 10% efficiency, after control losses and leaks it’s more like 5% efficiency, never mind inappropriate uses.

Considering the example of a vacuum pump at 0.33 HP it costs $300 energy, and maybe $300 equipment and maintenance, total annual $600. Say there are five of them total is $3,000.

The easy alternative 25 HP compressor is $24,000 energy plus $4,800 capital and maintenance, total annual $28,800

A good salesman can get you a variable speed VFD compressor that will save 20%, so $4,800 savings. We would rather make a case for vacuum pumps and save $25,800. With a bottom line of 10 percent after tax that’s $258,000 of production you can stop doing to make the same money.

My numbers may be off a little as we haven’t done this study at your facility, but this is the big picture that should be based on evidence. Compressor sales guys are so nice though, lets rather just buy a compressor. Compressed air is easy, anyone can do it.

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