Are Compressed Air Leaks Worth Fixing?
By Hank Van Ormer, Air Power USA
Why are compressed air leak programs often ignored or even discouraged by management, in addition to some energy recovery minded third parties?
This problem can be summed up as “Over Promise” and “Lack of Delivery”. In the 1990’s, the basic compressed air inefficiency energy transfer became a prime target for energy reduction programs promising great results with many low investments. Good payback programs, which they are indeed.
The least complicated program, easiest to understand and implement, was to fix the leaks. The 1/4” leak at $10,000/year savings became the byword. Management was easily persuaded to support these low cost, high return programs and the race was on. But, the results were “underwhelming”:
- Some “professional leak specialists” were known to find more leaks than the actual air supply.
- Promised savings of six figure dollar air reductions failed to register even a small blip on the monthly electric bill.
It didn’t take long for this continuing situation to often sour management on programs that require financial and manpower investments. Management might “talk to talk” but hesitated to “walk the walk”. Do not misconstrue, there were also many successful programs that scored well; however, we still see the same issues today with poorly implemented programs continuing to disappoint.
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