What can a company like Crusader, with a powerful complement of paper manufacturing equipment, do to further strengthen its manufacturing capability? One would not immediately think of the plant infrastructure as the next place to turn. But all our primary machines are powered by compressed air, and the quality of that system is prerequisite to optimal performance of our equipment.
Crusader’s compressed air system was studied over a period of many months. The system spans our entire manufacturing floor of 118,000SF. It powers not only our in-place equipment but a variety of small tools and equipment as well. The conclusion of the study was that while the existing system was sufficient for our purposes, it was not energy efficient, some key elements of the system were aged (i.e. the primary compressor), and the plant had to rely on the backup compressors too often during periods of high production requirements.
Just completed was a set of upgrades which addressed all these concerns in an elegant new system. Areas of piping with smaller diameters creating bottlenecks were replaced with large lines. The system was slightly reconfigured to create a “loop”, eliminating dead ends. These improvements ensure consistency of air pressure throughout the system, eliminating momentary drops in pressure. The primary compressor was replaced with a more powerful, variable speed compressor. The variable speed feature permits the unit to operate at just enough of its capacity to pressurize the system. Moreover, its inherent power means it does not have “overwork” to meet peak demand. The result is that even though this compressor has twice the power of its predecessor, it consumes less electricity. Piping to our back-up compressors was re-configured to permit us to run as full capacity even when the primary compressor is being serviced.
Our upgraded compressed air system is more powerful, consistent, efficient, and more easily maintained than before. The bonus is that new system will consume considerably less electricity than it did pre-upgrade. This results in cost savings as well as reducing CO2 emissions into the atmosphere by approximately 21,000 lbs / year.