Attention Plant Managers: Not All Compressed Air Audits Are Created Equally! (Part 2: The Demand Side)

by Eric Lunsford
October 31, 2016

A few weeks ago I wrote about what a good Supply Side Compressed Air Audit should cover (Compressed Air Audit Part 1).

Today I’m going to run you through what should be covered on the demand side.

Auditing and improving the supply side should give you the quick wins and cost savings in order to tackle the demand side – this is where the real money is for a plant manager. This isn’t a once off process – it is something that should be undertaken every two to three years – for the simple reason that technological innovation can often mean that today’s best practices are often obsolete by then.

Managing Demand For Real.

Waste and ‘Demand side Management’ are two sides of the same coin. Together they create your overall ‘compressed air consumption.’

Both can be managed and reduced and in the case of waste you can always set the goal of reducing it to the point of diminishing returns – it’s cheaper just to create the extra compressed air rather than find and eliminate the next source of waste.

Making the Most of ‘Lowest Effective Pressure.’

This is money for old rope… In most of the plants we audit we can find sections of the compressed air distribution system where the required pressure is far lower than the supplied pressure.

So it becomes a simple case of working in flow control regulators, storage air receivers, intermediate controllers etc. so that you have your different end applications receiving the minimum pressure they need to be effective.

For example: Air tools don’t work twice as efficiently when they have compressed air at twice the pressure they need to work… in fact they probably are less efficient. Doing this is in effect paying a ‘compressed air stupidity tax.’

Personally I don’t like paying more for less result… but maybe that’s just me.

This all starts with effective measurement of compressed air demand and supply to various usage areas in your compressed air system. Then we can go from there.

Leak Inspection Programs

Compressing air is expensive. Letting it escape through leaks is like taking money, ripping it up and flushing it down the toilet. In our experience conducting a leak inspection using ultrasonic leak detection equipment, you’ll quickly identify 20% to 35%. Frequently plugging these leaks corresponds to 10 to 20% of your power.

It will make sense to hold each section accountable for their air use and incentivise them to maintain their infrastructure – including leak identification and repair.

Regular ultrasonic leak detection by an outside party might seem expensive but compared to the power costs of leak – they are really cheap.

Pye-Barker has a team trained to conduct Compressed Air Optimization Audits and do ultra-sonic leak detection. If you are thinking of purchasing additional air compressors in order to increase supply to your existing compressed air system, doing a full compressed air audit will be much cheaper and will almost certainly help you to create the additional supply you need to avoid the purchase. So drop us a line at or call 404-363-6000 and we walk you through the process at no cost or obligation.

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