One of the greatest challenges facing building owners and facility professionals today is finding ways to reduce energy costs. The challenge can be even greater in industrial facilities filled with production equipment.

Air compressors, for example, are often one of a production facility's largest energy consumers. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has suggested that more than 50% of all compressed air systems at small- to medium-sized industrial facilities have energy-efficiency opportunities.

Concerned about its own facility's excessive energy usage, a New York-based metal products manufacturer recently paired up with Power Concepts LLC, a Manhattan-based consulting engineering firm, to conduct an energy feasibility study at the company's production facility.

Specifically, the company wanted to perform runtime monitoring on a number of air compressors in the facility in order to understand usage patterns on a 24/7 basis and see where energy reduction opportunities exist.

Betsy Jenkins, Director of the Energy Field Team for Power Concepts, led the project. "Our client wanted an energy survey conducted because they felt they were spending too much money on their facility's energy consumption," explains Jenkins. "They were concerned that their compressors were consuming most of the building's energy and requested that we monitor the runtime on several of their main air compressors."

Consultants like Jenkins use their knowledge and expertise to help building owners and facility management professionals identify the largest energy consumers within a facility and make recommendations that can help their clients operate more efficiently and save money on energy costs.

To monitor the compressor's runtime, Jenkins selected HOBO® State On/Off data loggers from Massachusetts-based Onset. The HOBO loggers were chosen, in particular, due to their reputation for accuracy.

"In our line of work, we have to make sure that we are getting the most accurate data. HOBOs are the best because of their reliability and low cost," explains Jenkins.

HOBO State On/Off loggers are compact, battery-powered devices that are used for recording on/off status changes, and storing time, data, and state information for each change.

One state logger was attached to each of the facility's three main compressors to monitor the exact on/off status of each compressor. The loggers were able to record the time that each of the compressors would turn on.

Once the compressor runtime data was collected over a two-week period, it was downloaded onto a computer and analyzed using Onset's HOBOware Pro™ graphing and analysis software. HOBOware features easy logger launch and readout functions, powerful data plotting capabilities, and an intuitive graphical user interface.

The collected data indicated that the compressor's runtime was unusually high, and contributed to the facility's high energy demand. Jenkins and her team then performed a second, more in-depth site evaluation of the building when it was shut down during the company's lunch-hour. Throughout their visit, Jenkins and her team noted a number of locations where compressed air leaked out of various fittings. In one case, they noted a compressed air nozzle whose actuating handle had been taped open to disperse fumes.

"Because we conducted our site survey when the building was quiet, we were able to detect a hissing sound that we had never noticed before. We discovered that one of the machine operators was using a compressor nozzle as a fan to blow fumes away from his welding machine. That employee had no idea that he was costing the company a huge amount of money," explains Jenkins. "The situation could easily be fixed by placing a small fan mounted near the machine to disperse the unpleasant fumes at a much lower cost."

The HOBO State On/Off data loggers, according to Jenkins, were instrumental in helping to understand how a large portion of electrical use was attributable to several leaks in the air compressors.

"Before conducting the survey, our client didn't realize how often their compressors were running. The HOBO loggers provided us with important data," concludes Jenkins. "The projected cost savings from our recommended energy conservation measures will save the client a substantial amount of money."


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