Save money on your compressed air systems

Depending on the size and scope of a factory, assembly plant, or manufacturing facility, the energy bill could be over $10 million a year. For some facilities, an energy bill of $1 million isn’t unheard of.

Typically, a large portion of this bill comes from air compressors. The Department of Energy estimated that compressed air could account for roughly 10% of electricity consumed at a facility. For some locations, it could be as high as 30%.

According to a scientific review conducted by Malaysian researchers, “Only about 10–20% of total input energy is utilized for useful work in compressed-air system.” This means for every $1,000 spent on compressed-air energy, only $100 to $200 is actually used to power machines and tools.

The numbers can be complex, but the overall point is simple: running an air compressor is expensive. Therefore, you have to get the most from your system. There are many strategies for compressed air savings, including rebates and incentives from state governments.

1. Work with the right installer

Arguably, the most important step, as it impacts all other factors, is that a facility must work with the right installer to bring the highest compressed air savings. An experienced, trained, and knowledgeable compressed air installer can examine your air needs and make quality recommendations to ensure the best results. If needed, they can conduct a thorough audit of your current system.

An air systems installer can work directly with a plant manager and ownership team to make strategic recommendations and ensure successful installation. They can suggest proper equipment for longer lasting energy savings as well as design and install a system that provides maximum efficiency. Installers, especially those who have worked in your industry, will recommend the best placement for air drops, the proper size and number of air compressors, and will consider the cost and value of your system.

Also, an installation professional can recommend changes and custom engineering solutions, helping facilities overcome barriers to efficiency, such as dirty environments or complex facility layouts.

2. Ensure you have the right machines

Before a facility can begin maintenance and apply for rebates, it needs the right equipment. Proper air compressors and accessories from leading manufacturers will ensure a higher level of success, bringing better efficiency and lower costs.

The air compressors should properly match your operations. Each facility has different needs for compressed air; some only need one small air compressor, while others need multiple large-scale machines. The distance from the compressor to the use point, as well as the number of drops and types of tools in regular use, will all impact your compressor selection.

The air system, from compressor to tool, should properly match your needs. It must have the right horsepower and deliver proper cubic feet per minute (CFM) to ensure efficient air use.

Compressed air savings start with the right compressor from high-quality manufacturers like Kaeser.

3. Keep up with maintenance

Maintenance matters. Industrial facilities need proper maintenance for their compressed air systems. Maintenance uncovers issues that may cause your facility to shut down and provides opportunities to make immediate changes to run at peak efficiency.

What will a service team do? They’ll change air and oil filters, add lubricant, replace belts, inspect vents, and more. After all, preserving your compressed air system keeps costs down.

4. See your state’s energy rebates

All states, from California to Maine, provide energy rebates and incentives to private individuals and organizations. When considering energy savings, it helps to look up various incentives, especially when installing new equipment, as many programs make energy-efficient installations more affordable. Some offer down-the-road savings through tax incentives (in other words, pay for the expense now, get a big reduction on your taxes later), while others provide more immediate savings or favorable loan terms. The right compressed air service team will know these rebates well.

The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency is among the best resources. This website enables you to find excellent rebates by searching an interactive map. You can select a state and search categories that include biomass, fuel cells, geothermal, and emerging technologies. There is also an energy-efficiency category.

There are numerous incentives for every state. Let’s look at a handful of examples from a few states.

South Carolina

In South Carolina, various programs bring financial incentives and favorable loans for energy-efficient upgrades and installations. For example, there is the Energy Efficiency Revolving Loan Fund, which provides up to $1 million for energy upgrades to commercial and industrial groups.

Ohio

Some areas provide local incentives. Cincinnati, Ohio, provides a good example. They have the Property Tax Abatement for Green Buildings program, which allows for a temporary tax abatement on commercial properties that meet LEED certification standards. This allows for a 15-year tax abatement.

Michigan

In Michigan, manufacturing facilities can take advantage of financial incentives that include the Coldwater Board of Public Utilities rebate program. This program encompasses numerous energy-efficient changes that may not be related to your air system but allow for a reduction in your energy bill. This program includes compressed air systems as well!

Call us for compressed air savings!

When it comes to the right installations, ensuring fantastic maintenance, and getting the equipment, the Elevated team can help. We make facilities more efficient, use less energy, and receive money-saving incentives and rebates! Our team will never sell compressed air systems you don’t need. And with 24/7 emergency coverage, we’re here to help you get your facility running at peak performance.

Case study: reducing energy waste to improve efficiency, save money, and increase sustainability

When Sandvik Coromant laid out ambitious goals for sustainability and energy efficiency, they realized that the air system in their South Carolina facility needed an upgrade. Working with Elevated Industrial Solutions, they were able to cut waste and enhance sustainable practices, all while reducing their overall energy bills.

About the client: Sandvik Coromant

Sandvik Coromant is a manufacturer specializing in metal-cutting tools used in machining applications. Established in 1942 in Sweden, this company is part of the larger engineering group known as Sandvik.

It’s an impressive company with over 100,000 customers worldwide. Sandvik holds more than 1,700 global patents and files 150 patents each year. The group specializes in customized machining tools and digitization; in manufacturing circles they have a well-established reputation for fast production and lasting quality. 

As a major global company, Sandvik Coromant leaders are aware of their significant impact on the environment. They are committed to sustainability and energy efficiency, which is why they needed the support of our air-system experts

The problem: wasted energy from the air system

Sandvik Coromant grew in numerous global regions, including South Carolina, mainly at the Westminster facility. 

The existing air system in Westminster had some issues. It was outdated and decentralized, leading to poor energy efficiency and overall air loss, causing the compressors to work overtime to meet the facility’s air needs. There was an issue maintaining consistent pressure, especially when the workload increased. The air within the system also had quality issues, reducing overall product quality and creating further needs for equipment maintenance. 

Energy consumption was a particular issue for the facility. Previous studies indicated that the air system was one of the biggest energy users for the entire facility. The company, however, had bold targets for sustainability; wasting that much energy was unacceptable.

Sandvik Coromant needed a partner who could evaluate their needs, plan and build an efficient system, and work with the company to maintain reliability, efficiency, and overall performance. They turned to Elevated, an authorized Kaeser distributor in the South Carolina area, to overhaul the air system and provide greater efficiency with superior performance.

Our solution: a smart, innovative air system

Using an air-study process, Elevated recommended a new primary air system and a smaller secondary system. 

The primary system would consist of four DSD-175 rotary-screw compressors and three TG 980 Secotec dryers. The team would also install a Sigma Air Manager (SAM) 4.0, which pulls operational data and enables stable pressure. To enhance efficiency, the team recommended increased storage and a new SmartPipe distribution system. These components and technologies would improve overall efficiency while significantly reducing wasted air. 

The secondary system would be used for extra machining and would consist of two SK 20 rotary-screw compressors. There would be a SAM for this system as well. 

The result: sustainability, savings, and efficiency

The original study estimated roughly $80,000 in annual energy savings for the facility. Even for a global manufacturing group like Sandvik, this would be a significant improvement. But in the end, the savings were $90,000 per year – $10,000 more than anticipated. 

In addition, facility managers can track usage and make adjustments thanks to reporting capabilities by the SAM unit. Using this critical information, managers and leaders can decrease pressure – as needed – for additional savings, all while delivering on the company’s promise to be more efficient and sustainable.

Exceed your goals with Elevated

Elevated helps you meet your company’s goals. We can increase the efficiency of your facility in eastern Michigan, western Ohio, and South Carolina. Our expert teams can install machines, conduct analysis, and provide additional equipment … just like they did at Sandvik Coromant.

We also offer preventive maintenance at each of our locations to ensure your facility never shuts down, operating at peak efficiency every day.

Special thanks to Kaeser for the article write-up!

Tony Grubish is an MVP at Kaeser and Elevated

Kaeser Compressors has high standards. The company and its employees only produce quality compressed air systems. Tony Grubish (sales engineer at Air Center – an Elevated Industrial Solutions Company) has high standards, too. Tony won the coveted Most Valuable Player (MVP) award for #1 salesperson in the U.S. from Kaeser (as part of the All Star contest) announced in January 2024.

Kaeser is known for precise German engineering. Like Elevated, Kaeser doesn’t compete on price; the company positions sales around value. What does that mean? The yellow compressors aren’t the cheapest option but are known for their longevity and quality; people choose them for their reliability and trustworthiness.

Tony Grubish came from the U.S. Air Force as a mechanic. Afterward, he worked as a service technician with a major competitor for nine years. At Air Center, he’s spent the past 19 years as a technician, service manager, and now a sales engineer. That time has given Tony a chance to develop a customer-focused strategy – understand his customers’ business and their compressors. In that way, Tony proves he’s reliable and trustworthy. Demonstrating our values is why customers keep coming back.

Kaeser’s All Star contest

There are various rules from Kaeser for the All Star contest based on baseball stats. You need to meet complicated criteria – sell two machines per month and achieve key metrics that include selling specific equipment.

Tony exceeded these metrics, winning the MVP at the year’s midpoint and at the end of the year.

Being an MVP came easy to Tony. One company had a mix of compressors, including some cheap Italian machines, that were failing. Employees there turned to Tony, relying on his expertise and competitive quote. He received a purchase order for 90 units before the end of January 2023.

“I was on a great path,” Tony admitted.

Get the customer, not always the sale

Tony credits his background as a service technician with a Kaeser Master Service Tech/Sales Certification on how he wins with customers. He asks questions to thoroughly understand the customer’s business and checks out the machines. Sometimes, that means he sells a new compressor, but not always. Instead, he’s focused on taking care of the customer to help them meet their goals – recommending service or changes to extend the life of their current compressor … even when he receives a request for quote.

“I’d rather get the customer than a sale.”

He knows he’s building a relationship. Because customers trust Tony, they keep coming back.

Tony said, “Once the relationship is built, selling new equipment, when they need it, is easy.”

Winning

Tony was leading as the best salesperson for Kaeser all year, joined by two other salespeople at Air Center: Chris Brown and Tom Kilgore. Although Chris and Tom lost out in December, our Michigan branch nearly had three of the top five Kaeser sales spots!

He also credits the fantastic service technicians; he indicates they’re a big part of how the branch keeps winning. It doesn’t hurt that his wife, Fay Grubish, is the service manager in northwestern Ohio, where he sells compressors.

“At Air Center, we’ve always taken pride in our service, and we have built a great relationship between our sales and service departments.”

Tony’s win as MVP also moves Air Center to the Kaeser designation of “level 5.” Kaeser has a system of levels from 0 – 5, giving deeper discounts on equipment and parts as you move up the scale. At level 5, Air Center earns more profit from sales. Of course that makes general manager, Jim Casey, happy. It helps their branch stay competitive while selling the gold standard in compressors.

But there were some personal rewards, too, for being the MVP besides bragging rights. Tony and his wife are going to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. And Elevated provided an extra award for demonstrating the values and brand.

What’s on for 2024?

When asked if he would win the MVP again, Tony sheepishly noted he has a purchase order for a bunch of compressors. Modestly, he confirmed he has a good chance of staying in the Presidents Club in 2025.

That winning attitude is why Tony’s an MVP at Elevated, too.

Transair piping

If you are installing, modifying, or upgrading a compressed air system, you may consider a variety of different materials for your piping. Options include black pipe, galvanized steel, copper, and stainless steel. 

Before making a decision, consider the benefits and drawbacks of aluminum piping. Strong, versatile, and reliable, aluminum piping can bring a fast installation for compressed air systems and better long-term performance for your total operations. 

It’s not always the right choice, but for many facilities, aluminum piping is a great option. SmartPipe (by Kaeser) is always a fantastic option. Kaeser is known for their quality engineering. But if SmartPipe isn’t available, we recommend Transair Aluminum Pipe.

Advantages of Transair

Like SmartPipe, it’s easy to connect and modify, making expansions for your compressed air system and facility faster and less expensive. The Transair push-to-connect system creates a firm hold to make the pipes leak-free. It connects with other piping, too. Plus, Transair comes in a variety of sizes, available in 1/2″ to 8″, and includes a warranty.

Unlike SmartPipe, Transair is readily available and may cost less than SmartPipe. (Contact us for details.)

Advantages of aluminum pipes

Aluminum piping brings a variety of advantages that make it ideal for numerous situations. When you need an affordable, durable, long-lasting system that can deliver reliable air compression, aluminum is often the ideal solution.

Aluminum is lighter than most metals. The mounting requirements and time to install are less than other heavier materials. 

Aluminum in general is less prone to corrosion, even compared to stainless steel. Even if there is a moisture trap (which we regularly install on air systems) there will be some water in the system, creating the right conditions for corrosion. This is less of a concern with aluminum. 

Disadvantages of aluminum piping for air systems

Although it remains one of the best choices for air systems, this pliable metal does have a few disadvantages. The upfront costs may be higher compared to other metals, which may cause some facilities to choose a different material. (But do your research; aluminum can bring long-term savings when installed correctly.) 

There can also be more thermal expansion and contraction, so controlling facility temperatures is critical. Although it meets the needs of most facilities, the pressure rating for some aluminum products may be lower as well. 

Your source for high-quality aluminum piping

Transair is a leader in the air-pipe industry. The company has a vast collection of lightweight, strong, corrosion-resistant pipes that come in a variety of sizes. These products bring excellent longevity and typically require less maintenance on compressed air systems.

When choosing your piping, you may need the guidance of an experienced professional to ensure the right pipes for your facility. There are a variety of sizes. (You should get the right size for your compressed air system.) Our installation team can help you determine the best options, add drop points, and more. We make it easy from beginning to end (including start-up).

Contact Elevated Industrial Solutions for expert service on your next installation for compressed air systems. We proudly serve western Ohio, eastern Michigan, and South Carolina. We’ll help you select the right pipes for your specific air requirements, and we’ll be available for installation and long-term maintenance.

5 common issues found in compressed air systems

A faulty air compressor can waste energy and resources at your facility. But, by keeping an eye out for common issues, you can keep your air compressor running efficiently.

1. Excessive operating temperatures 

Yeah, overheating. Air compressors shouldn’t exceed a temperature threshold for efficient functionality. A common cause of this issue is skipping maintenance visits. Regular maintenance visits by an experienced technician are the most important factors in keeping your air compressor running issue-free. It should be easy to schedule, too. Ask for recommendations, based on your environment, for maintenance if a warranty isn’t provided. 

mobile compressors

2. Air leaks

The Department of Energy estimates that roughly 20% to 30% of wasted energy from air compressors is due to air leaks. Leaks result in constant output fluctuation and a shorter compressor lifespan. So, addressing air leaks is one of the first steps to saving energy costs at your facility.

3. Choked airflow

If your air compressor isn’t outputting enough airflow, a few different factors could be causing the issue: obstructed intake filters, a bad pressure gauze setting, or a faulty coupler. If you’re unsure of the source of the obstruction, ask a compressor, can cut down the time required to get your compressor back up and running. 

4. A failing compressor

Air compressors that fail to start, stop, or provide enough pressure may be experiencing compressor failure. A common cause of compressor failure is inadequate oiling. Failing air compressors may be repaired, but in some cases need to be replaced. 

5. Uncommon sounds

Loud, weird noises or vibrations produced by your air compressor may indicate a problem. Possible issues include improper mounting, faulty pistons, or loose components. A vibration analysis could help determine the source.

Get help with the root cause

It can be difficult to pinpoint the root cause of your air compressor issues. If you’re struggling to determine the problem and perform the required repairs, Elevated Industrial Solutions is here to help. Our professionals have decades of experience in diagnosing and repairing faulty air compression systems. We can recommend new solutions and rentals to keep your facility up and running, meaning minimal or no downtime, too.

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