When air compressors “fight”

Anders Sjögren,
CEO Enersize

Dear Readers,

For this newsletter, we have chosen the theme When air compressors fight. Why is this a topic of interest? Our experience is that even if everyone assumes that their compressors are working in good alignment, and there is technology available to ensure they do, compressors are more often than not fighting with each other, causing waste of energy and production stops. Read more about this later in my blog and in the various articles in the newsletter.

This autumn is quite busy for us at Enersize. We had our very first Insight Webinar on September 21-22, with people attending from across the world. If you missed it, you can watch now instead! On October 26-27 we had the first physical Enersize Advisory Council meeting in Lund next to our office. The members of the advisory council are from large international manufacturing industries, as well as international experts on compressed air and pneumatics. The advisory council helps us at Enersize to develop towards our mission; to become the global champion on compressed air energy efficiency software!

Our research and development team has increased and we are now focusing the work to create the second generation of the Compressed Air Services for release next year, but already in December, we are pre-releasing a lab version of a brand new portal for customers and partners. The lab release will be used to collect feedback from key customers and partners and aims at streamlining the critical process when new customers fill in information about their compressed air system. By increasing the quality of the data collection, we increase the quality in the delivery of our partners.

It is a fact that many customers have very little insight into their compressed air system and making it easy and intuitive to collect information reduced the barrier to start the journey to energy excellency and to be a part of saving our climate. Do you want to help us with our work? Spread the word to potential partners and customers!

Now, let’s dive into the issue of compressors at war. Why does it happen? Compressors have been around for over 150 years. How come it still is so difficult to get multiple compressors working efficiently together?

Installed compressors are not suitable for your compressed air demand (usage)

The most common scenario we face when working with customers is that the compressors are not suitable for the compressed air demand. It is not surprising because buying the right compressor requires insight in the compressed air demand. How does your compressed air demand vary with time? To answer this question you need high-resolution data (1-5 seconds per measurement) over at least two weeks.

Since neither the customer nor the compressor manufacturer has this insight when the customer creates an RFQ (request for quotation) for buying a new compressor, it is common that the customer ends up owning the wrong combination of compressors.

In the best case, this causes a waste of energy. In the worst case, it causes a breakdown of the compressed air system and a production stop.

By monitoring your compressed air system and having access to compressed air experts, you can create RFQs that reflect your need and make sure you have a suitable set of installed compressors that reflect your need.

Configuration of compressor controllers is sub-optimal

In some cases, we see that the multiple compressors are controlled by a master compressor control system, which theoretically increases the energy efficiency of generating compressed air. The master control system is often supplied by the compressor manufacturer, using proprietary technology that directs the user to only connect compressors of a particular brand.

But no matter who supplies the master control system, it has to be configured in a way that is suitable for the customer. If the installed compressors are not suitable for the customer’s compressed air demand (see the previous section), it does not matter how well the master control system is configured; there will be issues leading to energy waste or risk for production stop.

Also when the installed compressors are suitable for the customer’s compressed air demand, the configuration of the master control system can be wrong, leading to the same type of issues.

The only way to secure that your master control system is operating well is to monitor your compressed air system and follow up on issues on a regular basis, perhaps with help from compressed air experts.

Compressor manufacturers use proprietary technology

Just as global smartphone companies do their best to lock users into their landscape of proprietary products and services, to earn as much as possible on each customer, many compressor manufacturers develop business plans to direct you to only use their brand of compressors.

Where are the open standards for communicating with compressors’ internal control systems?

By making it hard to communicate with a compressor, the user is directed to use compressor master control systems supplied by the compressor manufacturer.

Good for the compressor manufacturer, bad for the customer.

There are ways to circumvent this situation, but you need access to independent compressed air experts to learn about alternative technologies and suppliers.

How come it still is so difficult to get multiple compressors to work efficiently together?

To sum it up, my take is that it comes down to three things;

  1. Installed compressors are not suitable for the your compressed air demand, and
  2. Configuration of compressor controllers is sub-optimal.
  3. Compressor manufacturers use proprietary technology, effectively tying their customers to their brand, and 

I wish you the best and fabulous holidays until our next newsletter in January!

Anders, CEO of Enersize

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