Cutting compressed air leaks saves AFFCO a lot of energy

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Cutting compressed air leaks at just four of its sites saves meat exporter AFFCO 607,000 kWh a year in electricity.

Cutting compressed air leaks saves AFFCO a lot of energy  [pdf 82 KB]

Overview

Air leaks typically account for 20–50% of compressed air electricity use.  A diligent approach to finding and stopping these can immediate cut your electricity use, as meat company AFFCO has discovered.

All AFFCO’s sites use compressed air extensively. Often it is a challenge to prevent air leaks building up. Regular surveying and stopping leaks avoids a small energy waste problem becoming a potentially large energy waste problem.  Air leaks are normally stopped sooner or later and stopping leaks sooner saves energy and money.

EECA’s partnership with AFFCO showed one of the easiest, most effective ways of saving energy in industry often comes down to keeping a sharper eye on existing systems and processes, including regular checking.

EECA proposed to AFFCO a trial using a qualified surveyor with an ultrasound leak detector to demonstrate potential energy savings.  Ash Air was selected to conduct the survey that involved logging compressor use before and after stopping the leaks to measure energy savings.

EECA covered 40% of the costs of three rounds of surveys over a year, with one site survey costing $1680. As well, energy management specialists Emsol were contracted to conduct air-compressor health checks as part of an energy audit that looked at the overall efficiency levels within the company’s energy use.

In the first survey, Ash Air reported considerable air leaks across the company.  A second survey narrowed down the three sites where most savings could be achieved –- ranging from 39,000 kWh per year to 89,000 kWh per year. AFFCO has now completed its third round of surveys and is saving 607,000 kWh per year.

Most New Zealand businesses can shave at least 20% off energy costs with smarter energy use. EECA Business has a tailored programme to help meat and dairy processors cut carbon emissions by providing funds to scope the feasibility of efficient energy use and build a compelling business case for investment.

Tony Miles, Group Operations Officer at AFFCO, said compressed air is vital to AFFCO’s business. “But it relies on all aspects – pumps, joints, tools – being well-maintained and properly used in order to prevent it becoming an energy burden. These tests were crucial to maintaining a high standard of production and keeping our carbon footprint in check.”

EECA has a list of expert energy auditors like Emsol that have met the performance criteria to become an approved business partner. These experts can work on behalf of meat or dairy processors – as Emsol have done for AFFCO – to access EECA funding to help their clients become more energy efficient.

Big numbers

Four sites took up the challenge

607,000 kWh saved per year

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