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Energy savings at US Defense Manufacturer with VPVision

US Defense Manufacturer uses VPVision to monitor and optimize production process

By replacing liquefied N2 by instrument air, a US defense manufacturer has a savings potential of nearly $6.5 M USD over the 20-year lifespan of one manufacturing plant, on a $500 K investment. As this company owns several plants, their savings are a multitude. The manufacturer uses VPVision to compare the traditional system with the new one. This permanent monitoring system allows them to keep track of their ROI and look at ways to further improve their production process.

From LN2 to instrument grade compressed air

Many of the manufacturer’s production sites use liquefied N2 gas (LN2) and store it in large tanks on-site. In most existing plants, the LN2 is vaporized and put into an expensive pipe network to feed all kinds of production machines. In a new plant in a southern state a different concept was implemented to reduce the N2 consumption dramatically. The plant’s Senior Facilities Engineer (SFE) coordinated this savings project. “By using instrument grade compressed air, we don’t need N2 for many of our processes anymore,” the SFE explains. “This saves money in multiple ways: no more expensive N2 piping throughout the plant, no more maintenance on the LN2 system and last but not least, lower bills from the LN2 supplier.” Higher management has reviewed the installation and they are wowed by the results. This defense manufacturer has many sites worldwide that use LN2, so there is a great savings potential globally. Also, from an environmental perspective this results in fewer trucks transporting LN2, which is good for the planet as well.

“The new compressed air room is an example case for other sites.”

– Senior Facilities Engineer

Brand new compressed air installation

The new compressed air installation at the plant is a best-in-class example of how a compressed air room should be designed. It is very well laid out, given the space: an aero dynamical design of the ventilation and cooling ducts for the compressor; aluminum piping with angular feed into the header. The SFE says that within the company, they share information on best practices among other sites. The remodeled compressed air room at this specific production site is a great example of that. Joe Miller from Rocha Corp adds that it was a challenge to fit the entire installation in what used to be an old storage room. Think about the ventilation, equipment, maintenance, and more. “The entire process has taken months. But because it was exceptionally challenging, the result is extra rewarding.”

This US manufacturer has installed the following equipment:


VPInstruments VPFlowScope Probe for compressed air flow measurements

The advantages of a permanent monitoring system

The manufacturer uses a permanent monitoring system for several reasons:

  1. To keep track of the overall electricity consumption of their compressed air system.
  2. To perform a cost analysis to replace N2 with “test-instrument-grade” dry air.
  3. To check how much electric power is used to make test instrument grade dry air.
  4. To monitor the condition of the compressed air system, to make sure everything is running according to their specifications. For example, if a dryer fails, the consequential damage of lost product can be very substantial.

For all these reasons, compressed air monitoring is crucial for this (or any) manufacturer that uses compressed air in their production process.

No more guessing data with VPVision

So, there are numerous reasons for this manufacturer to use a permanent monitoring system. But what is their reason for choosing VPVison specifically? The US manufacturer was initially not familiar with either VPInstruments or VPVision. They knew all about the control systems suppliers for BMS systems, but these do not offer a real energy management solution. These traditional systems are mainly designed to control.

SFE: “When I looked at VPVision, I thought ‘wow, this is very interesting.’ It can monitor the entire compressed air system independently. The dashboards and graphics provide very useful information, not just raw data.” The VPVision dashboard shows the entire compressor room, with all relevant data in real time. It sends the SFE automatic PDF reports. He and his colleagues can now instantly check if things are okay, or if something needs attention. SFE: “VPVision really gave me what I was looking for. The software gives good reports. The information that comes back from VPVision is live and real. Previously everybody was ‘guestimating.’ I am now able to give other stakeholders in my company facts and data.”

A dew point sensor keeps track of the actual dew point, and the VPFlowScope ® insertion flow meter (in the back) keeps an eye on the total air consumption of the plant.

Quickly detecting and solving problems

VPVision gives the US manufacturer direct insight into their compressed air usage. For example, the SFE recently noticed a large spike in the air consumption. This carried on for 1.5 to 2 hours and caused all four compressors to run. The plant normally runs only three compressors, so the SFE knew there must be something wrong. It turned out that there was a software problem in a production machine. This caused a very large consumption of compressed air. Since they could trace back the exact moment of this event, they were able to warn the technicians to adjust the software, which prevents this from happening again. “VPVision, in addition to my own inspections, is very helpful to find this kind of issue. I only have to pull up a graph to find out what is happening and can immediately take action.”

“Thanks to the permanent monitoring, I now know the room ‘like my own watch’.”

– Senior Facilities Engineer

Keeping track of ROI with permanent monitoring

In any factory it is very important to know the operating costs. This is especially true when implementing a new installation, such as is the case with this defense manufacturer. The company wants to know how much the new installation costs compared to the traditional way of using LN2. VPVision allows them to keep track of their ROI (Return on Investment).

The SFE now wants to take it step further. “I want to look into extending the system with additional sensors. I would like to know the performance of our desiccant dryers. How much does operating a dryer cost?  How much air does it purge? Is there an excessive pressure loss over the dryer? Do both dryers have the same performance? I am going to add additional instrumentation to provide this information.” VPVision gives the company not only insight into their current production process, but also a unique opportunity to optimize it. Do you also wish to increase the compressed air efficiency at your factory? Contact our experts for advice!

Get free presentation for you and your team on the benefits of permanent monitoring

webinar replay

Permanent monitoring of your compressed air and other utilities is key to maximizing energy savings. It comes with many benefits as the example above shows, including data-based investment decisions, alarms, increased awareness, and in some cases even an increase in production. Our team experts provide free-of-charge an online presentation to you and your team on the benefits of permanent monitoring. Interested? Make your appointment today!

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