REMOTE MONITORING, RELIABILITY IMPROVEMENTS & ENERGY EFFICIENCY FOR A US-BASED DETERGENTS MANUFACTURING FACILITY
High leak rates, inefficient compressed air system, high risk for production downtimes
Key annual results
Total annual value
In 2019, the Ecoplant team was contacted by a US-based detergent manufacturer looking to improve its compressed air system energy efficiency, as well as increasing system reliability to maintain full production at their busy site.
In November 2019, the Ecoplant team visited the site and identified the required system sensors as a preparation for installation. Following an analysis of the compressed air system, EcoPlant provided an initial estimate for the site’s overall energy-saving potential.
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, the actual Ecoplant system installation was performed remotely, relying on the ground support of Atlas Machine technicians, our Midwest mechanical service partner.
On June 23rd, 2020 the Ecoplant system was launched, and began continuous monitoring of the air system (see full P&ID below):
In the 3 weeks following installation, the Ecoplant system monitored and analyzed the site’s air system in order to detect inefficiencies and measure the baseline status of the system.
During this short period, we identified a few critical points that negatively affected the system reliability and energy efficiency:
1. Leakage detection: During plant full shutdown July 5-7th the system measured an average level of 860 cfm (flow), 268 kW (energy) as shown in Figure 2. We estimated that around 400 cfm of this volume is due to leaks. A continuous 400 cfm flow equals about 100 kW of continuous wasted power (or an equivalent of $52k in wasted energy annually).
After fixing these leakages, our monitoring system is set up to continuously monitor and measure flow to help detect future leaks in the air system. The analysis team also noticed the system specific power during the shutdown was 31.2 kW per 100 cfm, far higher than an optimized level of under 20 kW per cfm—indicating potential savings if the compressors were better controlled.
Compressor production efficiency
After further analysis, the Ecoplant system identified that the compressed air system is more efficient when it produces high air volumes (1400-1800 cfm). During low air volumes (900 – 1400 cfm) the system is 25% less efficient. This characteristic is typical of poorly controlled air compressors. The average system specific power of this system is 25 kW per 100 cfm produced, but an optimized system with good compressor control would be expected to run at under 20 kW per 100 cfm.
Ecoplant’s dynamic engine can be used to improve the operation of the system by better matching the compressors to the plant air demand. By using the engine, we expect to achieve a 25% continuous improvement of efficiency during low air demand— or about 17% efficiency improvement overall.
Alert system – preventing unplanned downtime
The Ecoplant system continuously monitors system parameters; generating automatic system level and compressor level alerts if any value is detected within out-of-bounds range. The system also generates alerts based on compressor internal PLC alarms, since it is continuously communicating with each compressor controller. In this example (Figure 4 - Aug 8th) the system detected a pressure drop caused by compressor #3 overheating. This automatic alerting system alerts key operating personnel and helps to reduce the length of pressure drops and production downtimes.
Following the baseline period, Ecoplant has started the proactive optimization phase of the project. During this proactive optimization phase, our advanced AI algorithms dynamically control and optimize compressor operation in order to provide just enough air to meet the changing production air requirements. The advanced dashboard and automatic alerting system help the customer monitor their air system from anywhere in the world, while allowing remote manual controls if necessary. The customer also receives automated alerts related to compressor maintenance and can take early action to avoid major breakdowns and the resulting costs.
In the case of this client site, EcoPlant’s key value is the ability to prevent sudden pressure drops in the system by automatically starting backup compressor capacity. This process reduces unplanned downtimes to minimum and prevents pressure-related production outages.
We calculated the total estimated value to this customer during the first year alone as follows:
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